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a powerful 

werewolf 

story 

BY SEABURY QUINN 


Harold Ward - Arlton Eadie - Otis Adelbert Kline 
Paul Ernst - Clark Ashton Smith - Robert E, Howard 




A Phantom from the Ether 



THE PHANTOM 

T he inside story of a tremendous threat 
engineered by a phantom from the 
ether—a threat to gain control of the world 
—is thrillingly told in "The Moon Terror,” 
the most enthralling fantastic mystery of 
the age. The gigantic powers and clever 
plans behind this super-dream will hold you 
spellbound. 

Here Is How You Can Get 
This Amazing Book FREE 
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to you without cost, with each subscription 
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Threatens the Lives 
of all Mankind 

c\4sT» 

T he first warning of the stupen¬ 
dous cataclysm that befell the 
earth in the fourth decade of the 
Twentieth Century was recorded 
simultaneously in several parts of 
America. At twelve minutes past 3 
o’clock a. m., during a lull in the 
night’s aerial business, several of 
the larger stations of the Western 
hemisphere began picking up 
strange signals out of the ether. 

They were faint and ghostly, as if 
coming from a vast distance. As 
far as anyone could learn, the sig¬ 
nals originated nowhere upon the 
earth. It was as if some phantom 
were whispering through the; ether 
in the language of another planet. 

OF THE ETHER 

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j Volume 21 

CONTENTS FOR MARCH, 1933 

Number 3 j 

Cover Design — . 


— __ __M. Brundage 


i "The Thing in the Fog’ 

The Thing in the Fog_Seabury Quinn 275 

A goose-flesh werewolf novelette, replete with chills and shudders 

The Tower of the Elephant_Robert E. Howard 306 

A strange, blood-freezing story of an idol that wept on its throne 

Germs of Death-Harold Ward 323 

A sensational story about an aged Chinaman who kidnapped a human soul 

Buccaneers of Venus (part 5)-Otis Adelbert Kline 335 

A novel of breath-taking adventures amid the eery perils of another planet 

The Devil’s Tower-Arlton Eadie 353 

A startling tale of the Tower of London, haunted by ghosts of dead conspirators 

The Isle of the Torturers_Clark Ashton Smith 362 

A powerful story of terrific torments, and the onslaught of the Silver Death 

Akkar’s Moth-Paul Ernst 373 

An eery tale of the horrible thing that happened to Blaine Richardson 

The Letter_S. Gordon Gurwit 386 

An eldritch story of weird surgery—and a head that talked 

In Memoriam: 

Henry St. Clair Whitehead- 391 

The Eyrie_ 392 

A chat with the readers 

A Witch Passes-M. C. Bodkin 396 

Verse 

The Look_Maurice Level 397 

The dark shadow of a dead man came between the doctor and his wife 




274 





























A goose-flesh novelette, complete in this issue, about a spectacular 
exploit of the little French scientist and occultist, 

Jules de Grandin 


**f W^flENS, on such a night as this 
M the Devil must congratulate him- 
self!” Jules de Grandin forced his 
chin still deeper in the upturned collar 
of his trench-coat, and bent his head 
against the whorls of chilling mist which 
eddied upward from the bay in token 
that autumn was dead and winter come 
at last. 

"Congratulate himself?” I asked in 


amusement as I felt before me for the 
curbstone with the ferrule of my stick. 

"Why?” 

"Why? Pardieu, because he sits at 
ease beside the cozy fires of hell, and does 
not have to feel his way through this 
eternally-to-be-execrated fog! If we had 
but the sense- 

"Pardon, Monsieur, one of us is very 
clumsy, and I do not think that it is I!” 

275 


276 


WEIRD TALES 


he broke off sharply as a big young man, 
evidently carrying a heavier cargo of 
ardent spirits than he could safely man¬ 
age, lurched against him in the smother¬ 
ing mist, then caromed off at an unsteady 
angle to lose himself once more in the 
enshrouding fog. 

"Dolt!” the little Frenchman muttered 
peevishly. "If he can not carry liquor he 
should abstain from it. Me, I have no 
patience with these —grand Dieu, what 
is that?” 

Somewhere behind us, hidden in the 
curtains of the thick, gray vapor, there 
came a muffled exclamation, half of 
fright, half of anger, the sound of some¬ 
thing fighting threshingly with some¬ 
thing else, and a growling, snarling noise, 
as though a savage dog had leapt upon its 
prey, and, having fleshed its teeth, was 
worrying it; then: "Help!” The cry was 
muffled, strangled, but laden with a 
weight of helpless terror. 

"Hold fast, my friend, we come!” de 
Grandin cried, and, guided by the sounds 
of struggle, breasted through the fog as 
if it had been water, brandishing his sil¬ 
ver-headed sword-stick before him as a 
guide and a defense. 

A score of quick steps brought us to 
the conflict. Dim and indistinct as shad¬ 
ows on a moonless night, two forms were 
struggling on the sidewalk, a large one 
lying underneath, while over it, snarling 
savagely, was a thing I took for a police 
dog which snapped and champed and 
worried at the other’s throat. 

"Help!” called the man again, strain¬ 
ing futilely to hold the snarling beast 
away and turning on his side the better 
to protect his menaced face and neck. 

"Cordieu, a war-dog!” exclaimed the 
Frenchman. "Stand aside, Friend Trow¬ 
bridge, he is savage, this one; mad, per¬ 
haps, as well.” With a quick, whipping 
motion he ripped the chilled-steel blade 


from the barrel of his stick and, point 
advanced, circled round the struggling 
man and beast, approaching with a cau¬ 
tious, cat-like step as he sought an oppor¬ 
tunity to drive home the sword. 

By some uncanny sense the snarling 
brute divined his purpose, raised its muz¬ 
zle from its victim’s throat and backed 
away a step or two, regarding de Grandin 
with a stare of utter hatred. For a moment 
I caught the smoldering glare of a pair 
of fire-red eyes, burning through the fog- 
folds as incandescent charcoal might burn 
through a cloth, and: 

"A dog? Non, pardteu, it is-” 

began the little Frenchman, then checked 
himself abruptly as he lunged out swift¬ 
ly with his blade, straight for the glaring, 
fiery eyes which glowered at him through 
the mist. 

The great beast backed away with no 
apparent haste, yet quickly enough to 
avoid the needle-point of Jules de Gran- 
din’s blade, and for an instant I beheld 
a row of gleaming teeth bared savagely 
beneath the red eyes’ glare; then, with a 
snarling growl which held more defiance 
than surrender in its throaty rumble, the 
brute turned lithely, dodged and made 
off through the fog, disappearing from 
sight before the clicking of its nails 
against the pavement had been lost to 
hearing. 

"Look to him, Friend Trowbridge,” de 
Grandin ordered, casting a final glance 
about us in the mist before he put his 
sword back in its sheath. "Does he sur¬ 
vive, or is he killed to death?” 

"He’s alive, all right,” I answered as 
I sank to my knees beside the supine 
man, "but he’s been considerably chewed 
up. Bleeding badly. We’d best get him 
to the office and patch him up be- 

"Wha— what was it?” our mangled 
patient asked abruptly, rising on his elbow 


THE THING IN THE FOG 


277 


and staring wildly round him. "Did you 
kill it—did it get away? D’ye think it 
had hydrophobia?’’ 

"Easy on, son,” I soothed, locking my 
hands beneath his arms and helping him 
to rise. "It bit you several times, but 
you’ll be all right as soon as we can stop 
the bleeding. Here”—I snatched a hand¬ 
kerchief from the breast pocket of my 
dinner coat and pressed it into his hand— 
"hold this against the wound while we’re 
walking. No use trying to get a taxi to¬ 
night, the driver’d never find his way 
about. I live only a little way from here 
and we’ll make it nicely if you’li lean on 
me. So! That’s it!” 

T hb young man leant heavily upon 
my shoulder and almost bore me 
down, for he weighed a good fourteen 
stone, as we made our way along the 
vapor-shrouded street. 

"I say, I’m sorry I bumped into you, 
sir,” the youngster apologized as de 
Grandin took his other arm and eased 
me somewhat of my burden. "Fact is, 
I’d taken a trifle too much and was walk¬ 
in’ on a side hill when I passed you.” 
He pressed the already-reddened hand¬ 
kerchief closer to his lacerated neck as 
he continued with a chuckle: "Maybe it’s 
a good thing J did, at that, for you were 
within hearing when I called because 
you’d stopped to cuss me out.” 

"You may have right, my friend,” de 
Grandin answered with a laugh. "A lit¬ 
tle drunkenness is not to be deplored, and 
I doubt not you had reason for your 
drinking—not that one needs a reason, 
but-” 

A sudden shrill, sharp cry for help cut 
through his words, followed by another 
call which stopped half uttered on a 
strangled, agonizing note; then, in a mo¬ 
ment, the muffled echo of a shot, another, 
and, immediately afterward, the shrilling 
signal of a police whistle. 


"Tele bleu, this night is full of action 
as a pepper-pot is full of spice!” ex¬ 
claimed de Grandin, turning toward the 
summons of the whistle. "Can you 
manage him, Friend Trowbridge? If so 

Pounding of heavy boots on the side¬ 
walk straight ahead told us that the offi¬ 
cer approached, and a moment later his 
form, bulking gigantically in the fog, hove 

into view. “Did anny o’ yez see-” 

he started, then raised his hand in half- 
formal salute to the vizor of his cap as 
he recognized de Grandin. 

“I don’t suppose ye saw a dar-rg come 
runnin’ by this way, sor?” he asked. "I 
wuz walkin’ up th’ street a moment since, 
gettin’ ready to report at th’ box, when I 
heard a felly callin’ for help, an’ what 
should I see next but th’ biggest, ugliest 
baste of a dar-rg ye iver clapped yer eyes 
upon, a-worryin’ at th’ pore lad’s throat. 
I wus close to it as I’m standin’ to you, 
sor, pretty near, an’ I shot at it twict, 
but I’m damned if I didn’t miss both 
times, slick as a whistle—an' me holdin’ 
a pistol expert’s medal from th’ depart¬ 
ment, too!” 

"U’m?” de Grandin murmured. "And 
the unfortunate man beset by this great 
beast your bullets failed to hit, what of 
him?” 

"Glory be to God; I plumb forgot’im!” 
the policeman confessed. "Ye see, sor, I 
wuz that overcome wid shame, as th’ 
felly says, whin I realized I’d missed th’ 
baste that I run afther it, hopin’ I’d find 
it agin an’ maybe put a slug into it this 
time, so-” 

"Quite so, one understands,” de Gran¬ 
din interrupted, "but let us give attention 
to the man; the beast can wait until we 
find him, and —mon Dteu! It is as well 
you did not stay to give him the first aid, 
my friend, your efforts would have been 
without avail. His case demands the cor¬ 
oner’s attention." 


278 


WEIRD TALES 


He did not understate the facts. 
Stretched on his back, hands clenched to 
fists, legs slightly spread, one doubled 
partly under him, a man lay on the side¬ 
walk; across the white expanse of eve¬ 
ning shirt his opened coat displayed there 
spread a ruddy stickiness, while his 
starched white-linen collar was already 
sopping with the blood which oozed from 
his tom and mangled throat. Both ex¬ 
ternal and anterior jugulars had been 
ripped away by the savagery which had 
tom the integument of the neck to shreds, 
and so deeply had the ragged wound 
gone that a portion of the hyoid bone 
had been exposed. A spate of blood had 
driveled from the mouth, staining lips 
and chin, and the eyes, forced out be¬ 
tween the lids, were globular and fixed 
and staring, though the film of death had 
hardly yet had time to set upon them. 

"Howly Mither!” cried the officer in 
horror as he looked upon the body. "Sure, 
it were a hound from th’ Divil’s own 
kennels done this, sor!” 

"I think that you have right,” de Gran- 
din nodded grimly. "Call the depart¬ 
ment, if you will be so good. I will 
stand by the body.” He took a kerchief 
from his pocket and opened it, prepara¬ 
tory to veiling the poor, mangled face 
which stared appealingly up at the fog¬ 
bound night, but: 

“My God, it’s Suffrige!” the young 
man at my side exclaimed. "I left him 
just before I blundered into you, and— 
oh, what could have done it?” 

"The same thing which almost did as 
much for you, Monsieur," the French¬ 
man answered in a level, toneless voice. 
"You had a very narrow escape from 
being even as your friend, I do assure 
you.” 

"You mean that dog-” he stopped, 

incredulous, eyes fairly starting from his 
face as he stared in fascination at his 
friend’s remains. 


"The dog, yes, let us call it that,” de 
Grandin answered. 

"But—but-” the other stammered, 

then, with an incoherent exclamation 
which was half sigh, half groaning hic¬ 
cup, slumped heavily against my shoul¬ 
der and slid unconscious to the ground. 

De Grandin shrugged in irritation. 
"Now we have two of them to watch,” 
he complained. "Do you recover him as 
quickly as you can, my friend, while 

I-” he turned his back to me, dropped 

his handkerchief upon the dead man’s 
face and bent to make a closer examina¬ 
tion of the wounds in the throat. 

I took the handkerchief from my over¬ 
coat pocket, ran it lightly over the trunk 
of a leafless tree which stood beside the 
curb and wrung the moisture from it on 
the unconscious man’s face and forehead. 
Slowly he recovered, gasped feebly, then, 
with my assistance, got upon his feet, 
keeping his back resolutely turned to the 
grisly thing upon the sidewalk. "Can— 
you—help—me—to—your—office?” he 
asked slowly, breathing heavily between 
the words. 

I nodded, and we started toward my 
house, but twice we had to stop; for once 
he became sick, and I had to hold him 
while he retched with nausea, and once 
he nearly fainted again, leaning heavily 
against the iron balustrade before a house 
while he drew great gulps of chilly, fog- 
soaked air into his lungs. 

A t last we reached my office, and help- 
c ing him up to the examination table 
I set to work. His wounds were more 
extensive than I had at first supposed. A 
deep cut, more like the raking of some 
heavy, blunt-pointed claw than a bite, ran 
down his face from the right temple al¬ 
most to the angle of the jaw, and two 
deep parallel scores showed on his throat 
above the collar. A little deeper, a little 
more to one side, and they would have 


THE THING IN THE FOG 


279 


nicked the anterior jugular. About his 
hands were several tears, as though they 
had suffered more from the beast’s teeth 
than had his face and throat, and as I 
helped him with his jacket I saw his shirt- 
front had been slit and a long, raking cut 
scored down his chest, the animal’s claws 
having ripped through the stiff, starched 
linen as easily as though it had been 
muslin. 

The problem of treatment puzzled me. 
I could not cauterize the wounds with 
silver nitrate, and iodine would be with¬ 
out efficiency if the dog were rabid. Fi¬ 
nally I compromised by dressing the chest 
and facial wounds with potassium per¬ 
manganate solution and using an electric 
hot-point on the hands, applying lauda¬ 
num immediately as an anodyne. 

"And now, young fellow,” I an¬ 
nounced as I completed my work, "I 
think you could do nicely with a tot of 
brandy. You were drunk enough when 
you ran into us, heaven knows, but you’re 
cold sober now, and your nerves have 
been badly jangled, so-” 

"So you would be advised to bring 
another glass,” de Grandin’s hail sounded 
from the surgery door. "My nerves have 
been on edge these many minutes, and 
in addition I am suffering from an all- 
consuming thirst, my friend.” 

The young man gulped the liquor 
down in one tremendous swallow, seeing 
which de Grandin gave a shudder of dis¬ 
gust. Drinking fifty-year-old brandy was 
a rite with him, and to bolt it as if it 
had been common bootlegged stuff was 
grave impropriety, almost sacrilege. 

"Doctor, do you think that dog had 
hydrophobia?” our patient asked half 
diffidently. "He seemed so savage-” 

"Hydrophobia is the illness human be¬ 
ings have when bitten by a rabid dog or 
other animal, Monsieur,” de Grandin 
broke in with a smile. "The beast has 


rabies, the human victim develops hy¬ 
drophobia. However, if you wish, we 
can arrange for you to go to Mercy Hos¬ 
pital early in the morning to take the 
Pasteur treatment; it is effective and pro¬ 
tective if you are infected, quite harmless 
if you are not.” 

"Thanks,” replied the youth. "I think 
we’d better, for-” 

"Monsieur,” the Frenchman cut him 
short again, "is your name Maxwell, by 
any chance? Since I first saw you I have 
been puzzled by your face; now I remem¬ 
ber, I saw your picture in le journal this 
morning.” 

"Yes,” said our visitor, "I’m John 
Maxwell, and, since you saw my picture 
in the paper, you know that I’m to marry 
Sarah Leigh on Saturday; so you realize 
why I’m so anxious to make sure the 
dog didn’t have hydro—rabies, I mean. 
I don’t think Sallie’d want a husband she 
had to muzzle for fear he’d bite her on 
the ankle when she came to feed him.” 

The little Frenchman smiled acknowl¬ 
edgment of the other’s pleasantry, but 
though his lips drew back in the mechan¬ 
ics of a smile, his little, round, blue eyes 
were fixed and studious. 

"Tell me, Monsieur," he asked abrupt¬ 
ly, "how came this dog to set upon you 
in the fog tonight?” 

Y oung Maxwell shivered at the recol¬ 
lection. "Hanged if I know,” he an¬ 
swered. "Y’see, the boys gave me a fare¬ 
well bachelor dinner at the Carteret this 
evening, and there was the usual amount 
of speech-making and toast-drinking, 
and by the time we broke up I was pretty 
well paralyzed—able to find my way 
about, but not very steadily, as you know. 
I said good-night to the bunch at the hotel 
and started out alone, for I wanted to 
walk the liquor off. You see”—a flush 
suffused his blond, good-looking face— 
"Sallie said she’d wait up for me to tele- 


280 


WEIRD TALES 


phone her—just like old married folks! 
—and 1 didn’t want to talk to her while 
I was still thick-tongued. Ray Suffrige, 
the chap who—the one you saw later, 
sir—decided he’d walk home, too, and 
started off in the other direction, and the 
rest of ’em left in taxis. 

"I'd walked about four blocks, and was 
getting so I could navigate pretty well, 
when I bumped into you, then brought 
up against the railing of a house. While 
I was hanging onto it, trying to get steady 
on my legs again, all of a sudden, out of 
nowhere, came that big police-dog and 
jumped on me. It didn’t bark or give 
any warning till it leaped at me; then it 
began growling. I flung my hands up, 
and it fastened on my sleeve, but luckily 
the cloth was thick enough to keep its 
teeth from tearing my arm. 

"I never saw such a beast. I’ve had a 
tussle or two with savage dogs before, 
and they always jumped away and rushed 
in again each time I beat ’em off, but this 
thing stood on its hind legs and fought 
me, like a man. When it shook its teeth 
loose from my coat-sleeve it clawed at 
my face and throat with its forepaws— 
that’s where I got most of my mauling—• 
and kept snapping at me all the time; 
never backed away or even sank to all- 
fours once, sir. 

"I was still unsteady on my legs, and 
the brute was heavy as a man; so it wasn’t 
long before it had me down. Every time 
it bit at me I managed to get my arms 
in its way; so it did more damage to my 
clothes than it did to me with its teeth, 
but it surely clawed me up to the Queen’s 
taste, and I was beginning to tire when 
you came running up. It would have 
done me as it did poor Suffrige in a lit¬ 
tle while, I’m sure.” 

He paused a moment, then, with a 
shaking hand, poured out another drink 
of brandy and tossed it off at a gulp. "I 


guess I must have been drunk,” he ad¬ 
mitted with a shamefaced grin, "for I 
could have sworn the thing talked to me 
as it growled.” 

"Eh? The Devil!” Jules de Grandin 
sat forward suddenly, eyes wider and 
rounder than before, if possible, the 
needle-points of his tightly waxed wheat- 
blond mustache twitching like the whis¬ 
kers of an irritated tom-cat. "What is it 
that you say?” 

"Hold on,” the other countered, quick 
blood mounting to his cheeks. "I didn’t 
say it; I said it seemed as if its snarls 
were words.” 

" Precisement, exactement, quite so,” 
returned the Frenchman sharply. "And 
what was it that he seemed to snarl at 
you, Monsieur? Quickly, if you please.” 

"Well, I was drunk, I admit, but-” 

"Ten thousand small blue devils! We 
bandy words. I have asked you a ques¬ 
tion; have the courtesy to reply, Mon¬ 
sieur." 

' Well, it sounded—sort of—as if it kept 

repeating Sallie’s name, like this-” 

he gave an imitation of a throaty, growl¬ 
ing voice: " 'Sarah Leigh, Sarah Leigh— 
you’ll never marry Sarah Leigh!’ 

"Ever hear anything so nutty? I reckon 
I must have had Sallie in my mind, sub¬ 
consciously, while I was having what I 
thought was my, death-struggle.” 

It was very quiet for a moment. John 
Maxwell looked half sullenly, half de¬ 
fiantly from de Grandin to me. De 
Grandin sat as though lost in contempla¬ 
tion, his small eyes wide and thoughtful, 
his hands twisting savagely at the waxed 
ends of his mustache, the tip of his pat¬ 
ent-leather evening shoe beating a devil’s 
tattoo on the white-tiled floor. At length, 
abruptly: 

"Did you notice any smell, any pe¬ 
culiar odor, when we went to Monsieur 


THE THING IN THE FOG 


281 


Maxwell’s rescue this evening, Friend 
Trowbridge?” he demanded. 

"Why-” I bent my brows and 

wagged my head in an effort at remem¬ 
brance. "Why, no, I didn’t-” I 

stopped, while somewhere from the file- 
cases of my subconscious memory came a 
hint of recollection: Soldiers’ Park— 
a damp and drizzling day—the open- 
air dens of the menagerie. "Wait,” I or¬ 
dered, closing both eyes tightly while I 
bade my memory catalogue the vague, 
elusive scent; then: "Yes, there was an 
odor I’ve noticed at the zoo in Soldiers’ 
Park; it was the smell of the damp fur 
of a fox, or wolf!” 

De Grandin beat his small, white hands 
together softly, as though applauding at 
a play. "Capital, perfect!” he announced. 
"I smelt it too, when first we did ap¬ 
proach, but our senses play strange tricks 
on us at times, and I needed the corrobo¬ 
ration of your nose’s testimony, if it could 

be had. Now-” he turned his fixed, 

unwinking stare upon me as he asked: 
"Have you ever seen a wolf’s eyes—or 
a dog’s—at night?” 

"Yes, of course,” I answered wonder- 
ingly. 

"Tres bien. And they gleamed with a 
reflected greenness, something like Ma¬ 
dame Pussy’s, only not so bright, n’est-ce- 
pas?" 

"Yes.” 

"Tres bon. Did you see the eyes of 
what attacked Monsieur Maxwell this 
evening? Did you observe them?” 

"I should say I did,” I answered, for 
never would I forget those fiery, glaring 
orbs. "They were red, red as fire!” 

"Oh, excellent Friend Trowbridge; oh, 
prince of all the recollectors of the 
world!” de Grandin cried delightedly. 
"Your memory serves you perfectly, and 
upholds my observations to the full. Be¬ 
fore, I guessed; I said to me, 'Jules de 


Grandin, you are generally right, but once 
in many times you may be wrong. See 
what Friend Trowbridge has to say.’ 
And you, parbleu, you said the very 
thing I needed to confirm me in my diag¬ 
nosis. 

"Monsieur,” he turned to Maxwell 
with a smile, "you need not fear that you 
have hydrophobia. No. You were very 
near to death, a most unpleasant sort of 
death, but not to death by hydrophobia. 
Morbleu, that would be an added re¬ 
finement which we need not take into 
consideration.” 

"Whatever are you talking about?” I 
asked in sheer amazement. "You ask me 
if I noticed the smell that beast gave off, 
and if I saw its eyes, then tell Mr. Max¬ 
well he needn’t fear he’s been inoculated. 
Of all the hare-brained-” 

He turned his shoulder squarely on me 
and smiled assuringly at Maxwell. "You 
said that you would call your amoureuse 
tonight, Monsieur; have you forgotten?” 
he reminded, then nodded toward the 
’phone. 

T he young man picked the instru¬ 
ment up, called a number and 
waited for a moment; then: "John speak¬ 
ing, honey,” he announced as we heard 
a subdued click sound from the mono¬ 
phone. Another pause, in which the 
buzzing of indistinguishable words came 
faintly to us through the quiet room; 
then Maxwell turned and motioned me 
to take up the extension ’phone. 

"-and please come right away, 

dear,” I heard a woman’s voice plead as 
I clapped the instrument against my ear. 
"No, I can’t tell you over the ’phone, 
but I must see you right away, Johnny— 
I must! You’re sure you’re all right? 
Nothing happened to you?” 

"Well,” Maxwell temporized, "I’m in 
pretty good shape, everything considered. 
I had a little tussle with a dog, but-” 


282 


WEIRD TALES 


"A— dog?” Stark, incredulous horror 
sounded in the woman's fluttering voice. 
"What sort of dog?” 

"Oh, just a dog, you know; not very 
big and not very little, sort o’ betwixt and 
between, and-” 

"You’re sure it was a dog? Did it look 
like a—a police-dog, for instance?” 

“Well, now you mention it, it did look 
something like a police-dog, or collie, or 
airedale, or something, but-” 

"John, dear, don’t try to put me off 
that way. This is terribly, dreadfully im¬ 
portant. Please hurry over—no, don’t 
come out at night—yes, come at once, 
but be sure not to come alone. Have you 
a sword, or some sort of steel or iron 
weapon you can carry for defense when 
you come?” 

Young Maxwell’s face betrayed bewil¬ 
derment. “A sword?” he echoed. "What 
d’ye think I am, dear, a knight of old? 
No, I haven’t a sword to my name, not 
even a jack-knife, but—I say, there’s a 
gentleman I met tonight who has a bully 
little sword; may I bring him along?” 

"Oh, yes, please do, dear; and if you 
can get some one else, bring him too. 
I’m terribly afraid to have you venture 
out tonight, dearest, but I have to see 
you right away!” 

"All right,” the young man answered. 
"I’ll pop right over, honey.” 

As he replaced the instrument, he 
turned bewilderedly to me. "Wonder 
what the deuce got into Sally?’ he asked. 
"She seemed all broken up about some¬ 
thing, and I thought she’d faint when I 
mentioned my set-to with that dog. What’s 
it mean?” 

Jules de Grandin stepped through the 
doorway connecting surgery with con¬ 
sulting-room, where he had gone to lis¬ 
ten to the conversation from the desk ex¬ 
tension. His little eyes were serious, his 
small mouth grimly set "Monsieur," he 


announced gravely, "it means that Made¬ 
moiselle Sarah knows more than any of 
us what this business of the Devil is about. 
Come, let us go to her without delay.” 

As we prepared to leave the house he 
paused and rummaged in the hall coat- 
closet, emerging in a moment, balancing 
a pair of blackthorn walking-sticks in his 

"What-” I began, but he cut me 

short. 

"These may prove useful,” he an¬ 
nounced, handing one to me, the other 
to John Maxwell. “If what I damn sus¬ 
pect is so, he will not greatly relish a 
thwack from one of these upon the head. 
No, the thorn-bush is especially repug¬ 
nant to him.” 

"Humph, I should think it would be 
particularly repugnant to any one,” I an¬ 
swered, weighing the knotty bludgeon in 
my hand. “By the way, who is 'he’?” 

"Mademoiselle Sarah will tell us that,” 
he answered enigmatically. "Are we 
ready? Bon, let us be upon our way.” 

T he mist which had obscured the 
night an hour or so before had 
thinned to a light haze, and a drizzle of 
rain was commencing as we set out. The 
Leigh house was less than half a mile from 
my place, and we made good time as we 
marched through the damp, cold darkness. 

I had known Joel Leigh only through 
having shared committee appointments 
with him in the local Republican organ¬ 
ization and at the archdeaconry. He had 
entered the consular service after being 
retired from active duty with the Marine 
Corps following a surgeon’s certificate of 
disability, and at the time of his death 
two years before had been rated as one of 
the foremost authorities on Near East 
commercial conditions. Sarah, his daugh¬ 
ter, whom I had never met, was, by all 
accounts, a charming young woman, 
equally endowed with brains, beauty and 


THE THING IN THE FOG 


283 


money, and keeping up the family tradi¬ 
tion in the big house in Tuscarora Ave¬ 
nue, where she lived with an elderly 
maiden aunt as duenna. 

Leigh’s long residence in the East was 
evidenced in the furnishings of the long, 
old-fashioned hall, which was like a royal 
antechamber in miniature. In the softly 
diffused light from a brass-shaded Turk¬ 
ish lamp we caught gleaming reflections 
from heavily carved blackwood furniture 
and the highlights of a marvelously in¬ 
laid Indian screen. A carved table flanked 
by dragon-chairs stood against the wall, 
the floor was soft as new-mown turf with 
rugs from China, Turkey and Kurdistan. 

"Mis’ Sarah’s in the library,” announced 
the negro butler who answered our sum¬ 
mons at the door, and led us through the 
hall to the big, high-ceilinged room where 
Sarah Leigh was waiting. Books lined 
the chamber’s walls from floor to ceiling 
on three sides; the fourth wall was de¬ 
voted to a bulging bay-window which 
overlooked the garden. Before the fire 
of cedar logs was drawn a deeply padded 
divan, while flanking it were great arm¬ 
chairs upholstered in red leather. The 
light which sifted through the meshes of 
a brazen lamp-shade disclosed a tabouret 
of Indian mahogany on which a coffee 
service stood. Before the fire the mistress 
of the house stood waiting us. She was 
rather less than average height, but ap¬ 
peared taller because of her fine carriage. 
Her mannishly dose-cropped hair was 
dark and inclined toward curliness, but 
as she moved toward us I saw it showed 
bronze glints in the lamplight. Her eyes 
were large, expressive, deep hazel, almost 
brown. But for the look of cynicism, al¬ 
most hardness, around her mouth, she 
would have been something more than 
merely pretty. 

Introductions over, Miss Leigh looked 
from one of us to the other with some¬ 


thing like embarrassment in her eyes. 
"If-” she began, but de Grandin di¬ 

vined her purpose, and broke in: 

"Mademoiselle, a short time since, we 
had the good fortune to rescue Monsieur 
your fiance from a dog which I do not 
think was any dog at all. That same crea¬ 
ture, I might add, destroyed a gentleman 
who had attended Monsieur Maxwell’s 
dinner within ten minutes of the time 
we drove it off. Furthermore, Monsieur 
Maxwell is under the impression that this 
dog-thing talked to him while it sought 
to slay him. From what we overheard 
of your message on the telephone, we 
think you hold the key to this mystery. 
You may speak freely in our presence, 
for I am Jules de Grandin, physician and 
occultist, and my friend, Doctor Trow¬ 
bridge, has most commendable discre¬ 
tion.” 

The young woman smiled, and the 
transformation in her taut, strained face 
was startling. "Thank you,” she replied; 
"if you’re an occultist you will under¬ 
stand, and neither doubt me nor demand 
explanations of things I can’t explain.” 

She dropped cross-legged to the hearth 
rug, as naturally as though she were more 
used to sitting that way than reclining in 
a chair, and we caught the gleam of a 
great square garnet on her forefinger as 
she extended her hand to Maxwell. 

"Hold my hand while I’m talking, 
John,” she bade. "It may be for the last 
time. Then, as he made a gesture of dis¬ 
sent, abruptly: 

"I can not marry you—or any one,” 
she announced. 

Maxwell opened his lips to protest, 
but no sound came. I stared at her in 
wonder, trying futilely to reconcile the 
agitation she had shown when telephon¬ 
ing with her present deadly, apathetic 
calm. 

Jules de Grandin yielded to his curios- 


284 


WEIRD TALES 


ity. "Why not. Mademoiselle?” he asked. 
"Who has forbid the banns?” 

She shook her head dejectedly and 
turned a sad-eyed look upon him as she 
answered: "It’s just the continuation of 
a story which I thought was a closed chap¬ 
ter in my life.” For a moment she bent 
forward, nestling her cheek against young 
Maxwell's hand; then: 

“Tt began when Father was attached 
A to the consulate in Smyrna,” she con¬ 
tinued. "France and Turkey were both 
playing for advantage, and Father had to 
find out what they planned, so he had to 
hire secret agents. The most successful of 
them was a young Greek named George 
Athanasakos, who came from Crete. Why 
he should have taken such employment 
was more than we could understand; for 
he was well educated, apparently a gen¬ 
tleman, and always well supplied with 
money. He told us he took the work be¬ 
cause of his hatred of the Turks, and as 
he was always successful in getting in¬ 
formation, Father didn’t ask questions. 

'When his work was finished he con¬ 
tinued to call at our house as a guest, and 
I—I really didn’t love him, I couldn’t 
have, it was just infatuation, meeting 
him so far from home, and the water 
and that wonderful Smyrna moonlight, 
and-” 

"Perfectly, Mademoiselle, one fully 
understands,” de Grandin supplied softly 
as she paused, breathless; "and then-’’ 

"Maybe you never succumbed to 
moonlight and water and strange, roman¬ 
tic poetry and music,” she half whis¬ 
pered, her eyes grown wider at the recol¬ 
lection, "but I was only seventeen, and 
he was very handsome, and—and he 
swept me off my feet. He had the softest, 
most musical voice I’ve ever heard, and 
the things he said sounded like something 
written by Byron at his best. One moon¬ 
lit night when we’d been rowing, he 


begged me to say I loved him, and—and 
I did. He held me in his arms and kissed 
my eyes and lips and throat. It was like 
being hypnotized and conscious at the 
same time. Then, just before we said 
good-night he told me to meet him in an 
old garden on the outskirts of the city 
where we sometimes rested when we’d 
been out riding. The rendezvous was 
made for midnight, and though I thought 
it queer that he should want to meet me 
at that time in such a place—well, girls 
in love don’t ask questions, you know. 
At least, I didn’t. 

"There was a full moon the next night, 
and I was fairly breathless with the beauty 
of it all when I kept the tryst. I thought 
I’d come too early, for George was no¬ 
where to be seen when I rode up, but 
as I jumped down from my horse and 
looked around I saw something moving 
in the laurels. It was George, and he’d 
thrown a cape or cloak of some sort of fur 
across his shoulders. He startled me 
dreadfully at first; for he looked like 
some sort of prowling beast with the 
animal’s head hanging half down across 
his face, like the beaver of an ancient 
helmet. It seemed to me, too, that his 
eyes had taken on a sort of sinister green¬ 
ish tinge, but when he took me in his 
arms and kissed me I was reassured. 

'Then he told me he was the last of a 
very ancient clan which had been wiped 
out warring with the Turks, and that it 
was a tradition of their blood that the 
woman they married take a solemn oath 
before the nuptials could be celebrated. 
Again I didn’t ask questions. It all 
seemed so wonderfully romantic,” she 
added with a pathetic little smile. 

"He had another skin cloak in readi¬ 
ness and dropped it over my shoulders, 
pulling the head well forward above my 
face, like a hood. Then he built a little 
fire of dry twigs and threw some incense 


THE THING IN THE FOG 


285 


on it. I knelt above the fire and inhaled 
the aromatic smoke while he chanted 
some sort of invocation in a tongue I 
didn’t recognize, but which sounded 
harsh and terrible—like the snarling of a 
savage dog. 

"What happened next I don’t re¬ 
member clearly, for that incense did 
things to me. The old garden where I 
knelt seemed to fade away, and in its 
place appeared a wild and rocky moun¬ 
tain scene where I seemed walking down 
a winding road. Other people were walk¬ 
ing with me, some before, some behind, 
some beside me, and all were clothed in 
cloaks of hairy skin like mine. Suddenly, 
as we went down the mountainside, I be¬ 
gan to notice that my companions were 
dropping to all-fours, like beasts. But 
somehow it didn’t seem strange to me; 
for, without realizing it, I was running 
on my hands and feet, too. Net crawl¬ 
ing, you know, but actually running— 
like a dog. As we neared the mountain’s 
foot we ran faster and faster; by the time 
we reached a little clearing in the heavy 
woods which fringed the rocky hill we 
were going like the wind, and I felt my¬ 
self panting, my tongue hanging from 
my mouth. 

"In the clearing other beasts were 
waiting for us. One great, hairy creature 
came trotting up to me, and I was ter¬ 
ribly frightened at first, for I recognized 
it as a mountain wolf, but it nuzzled me 
with its black snout and licked me, and 
somehow it seemed like a caress—I liked 
it. Then it started off across the unplowed 
field, and I ran after it, caught up with it, 
and ran alongside. We came to a pool and 
the beast stopped to drink, and I bent 
over the water too, lapping it up with 
my tongue. Then I saw our images in the 
still pond, and almost died of fright, for 
the thing beside me was a mountain 
wolf, and I was a she-wolf! 


"My astonishment quickly passed, 
however, and somehow I didn’t seem to 
mind having been transformed into a 
beast; for something deep inside me kept 
urging me on, on to something—I didn't 
quite know what. 

"When we’d drunk we trotted through 
a little patch of woodland and suddenly 
my companion sank to the ground in the 
underbrush and lay there, red tongue 
lolling from its mouth, green eyes fixed 
intently on the narrow, winding path be¬ 
side which we were resting. I wondered 
what we waited for, and half rose on my 
haunches to look, but a low, warning 
growl from the thing beside me warned 
that something was approaching. It was 
a pair of farm laborers, Greek peasants I 
knew them to be by their dress, and they 
were talking in low tones and looking 
fearfully about, as though they feared an 
ambush. When they came abreast of us 
the beast beside me sprang—so did I. 

"I’ll never forget the squeaking scream 
the nearer man gave as I leaped upon 
him, or the hopeless, terrified expression 
in his eyes as he tried to fight me off. 
But I bore him down, sank my teeth into 
his throat and began slowly tearing at his 
flesh. I could feel the blood from his 
torn throat welling up in my mouth, and 
its hot saltiness was sweeter than the most 
delicious wine. The poor wretch’s strug¬ 
gles became weaker and weaker, and I 
felt a sort of fierce elation. Then he 
ceased to fight, and I shook him several 
times, as a terrier shakes a rat, and when 
he didn’t move or struggle, I tore at his 
face and throat and chest till my hairy 
muzzle was one great smear of blood. 

"Then, all at once, it seemed as though 
a sort of thick, white fog were spreading 
through the forest, blinding me and shut¬ 
ting out the trees and undergrowth and 
my companion beasts, even the poor boy 
whom I had killed, and—there I was, 


286 


WEIRD TALES 


kneeling over the embers of the dying 
fire in the old Smyrna garden, with the 
clouds of incense dying down to little 
curly spirals. 

"George was standing across the fire 
from me, laughing, and the first thing I 
noticed was that his lips were smeared 
with blood. 

"Something hot and salty stung my 
mouth, and I put my hand up to it. 
When I brought it down the fingers were 
red with a thick, sticky liquid. 

"I think I must have started to scream; 
for George jumped over the fire and 
clapped his hand upon my mouth— ugh, 
I could taste the blood more than ever, 
then!—and whispered, 'Now you are 
truly mine, Star of the Morning. To¬ 
gether we have ranged the woods in 
spirit as we shall one day in body, O true 
mate of a true vrykolakas!’ 

"Vrykolakas is a Greek word hard to 
translate into English. Literally it means 
'the restless dead’, but it also means a 
vampire or a werewolf, and the vryko- 
lakes are the most dreaded of all the host 
of demons with which Greek peasant- 
legends swarm. 

"I shook myself free from him. 'Let 
me go; don’t touch me; I never want to 
see you again!’ I cried. 

" 'Nevertheless, you shall see me again 
—and again and again—Star of the Sea!’ 
he answered with a mocking laugh. 'You 
belong to me, now, and no one shall take 
you from me. When I want you I will 
call, and you will come to me, for’—he 
looked directly into my eyes, and his own 
seemed to merge and rim together, like 
two pools of liquid, till they were one 
great disk of green fire—'thou shalt have 
no other mate than me, and he who tries 
to come between us dies. See, I put my 
mark upon you!’ 

"He tore my riding-shirt open and 
pressed his lips against my side, and next 


instant I felt a biting sting as his teeth 
met in my flesh. See-” 

W ith a frantic, wrenching gesture 
she snatched at the low collar of 
her red-silk lounging pajamas, tore the 
fabric asunder and exposed her ivory 
flesh. Three inches or so below her left 
axilla, in direct line with the gently swell¬ 
ing bulge of her firm, high breast, was 
a small whitened cicatrix, and from it 
grew a little tuft of long, grayish-brown 
hair, like hairs protruding from a mole, 
but unlike any body hairs which I had 
ever seen upon a human being. 

"Grand Dieu exclaimed de Grandin 
softly. "Foil de loup!” 

"Yes,” she agreed in a thin, hysterical 
whisper, "it’s wolf’s hair! I know. I cut 
it off and took it to a biochemist in Lon¬ 
don, and he assured me it was unques¬ 
tionably the hair of a wolf. I’ve tried and 
tried to have the scar removed, but it’s 
useless. I’ve tried cautery, electrolysis, 
even surgery, but it disappears for only 
a little while, then comes again.” 

For a moment it was still as death in 
the big dim-lighted room. The little 
French-gilt clock upon the mantelpiece 
ticked softly, quickly, like a heart that 
palpitates with terror, and the hissing of 
a burning resined log seemed loud and 
eery as night-wind whistling round a 
haunted tower. The girl folded the tom 
silk of her pajama jacket across her breast 
and pinned it into place; then, simply, 
desolately, as one who breaks the news of 
a dear friend’s death: 

"So I can not marry you, you see, John, 
dear,” she said. 

"Why?” asked the young man in a 
low, fierce voice. "Because that scoun¬ 
drel dragged you with his devilish incense 
and made you think you’d turned into a 

wolf? Because-” 

"Because I’d be your murderess if I 
did so,” she responded quaveringly. 


THE THING IN THE FOG 


287 


"Don’t you remember? He said he’d call 
me when he wanted me, and any one 
who came between him and me would 
die. He’s come for me, he’s called me, 
John; it was he who attacked you in the 
fog tonight. Oh, my dear, my dear, I love 
you so; but I must give you up. It would 
be murder if I were to marry you!” 

"Nonsense!” began John Maxwell 
bruskly. "If you think that man can-” 

Outside the house, seemingly from un¬ 
derneath the library’s bow-window, there 
sounded in the rain-drenched night a 
wail, long-drawn, pulsating, doleful as 
the cry of an abandoned soul: "O-u-o— 
o-u-oo—o-u-o—o-u-oo!” it rose and fell, 
quavered and almost died away, then re¬ 
surged with increased force. "O-u-o— 
o-u-o-o—o-u-o—o-u-oo! ’ ’ 

The woman on the hearth rug cowered 
like a beaten beast, clutching frantically 
with fear-numbed fingers at the drugget’s 
pile, half crawling, half writhing toward 
the brass bars where the cheerful fire 
burned brightly. "Oh,” she whimpered 
as the mournful ululation died away, 
"that’s he; he called me once before to¬ 
day; now he’s come again, and-” 

"Mademoiselle, restrain yourself,” de 
Grandin’s sharp, whip-like order cut 
through her mounting terror and brought 
her back to something like normality. 
"You are with friends,” he added in a 
softer tone; "three of us are here, and we 
are a match for any sacre loup-garou that 
ever killed a sheep or made night hideous 
with his howling. Parbleu, but I shall 
say damn yes. Did I not, all single- 
handed, already put him to flight once 
tonight? But certainly. Very well, then, 
let us talk this matter over calmly, 
for-” 

With the suddenness of a discharged 
pistol a wild, vibrating howl came through 
the window once again. "O-u-o—o-u-oo 
—o-u-o!” it rose against the stillness of 


the night, diminished to a moan, then 
suddenly crescendoed upward, from a 
moan to a wail, from a wail to a howl, 
despairing, pleading, longing as the cry 
of a damned spirit, fierce and wild as the 
rally-call of the fiends of hell. 

"Sang du diable, must I suffer inter¬ 
ruption when I wish to talk? Sang des 
tous les saints —it is not to be borne!” de 
Grandin cried furiously, and cleared the 
distance to the great bay-window in two 
agile, cat-like leaps. 

"Allezl” he ordered sharply, as he 
flung the casement back and leaned far 
out into the rainy night. "Be off, before 
I come down to you. You know me, 
hein? A little while ago you dodged my 
steel, but-” 

A snarling growl replied, and in the 
clump of rhododendron plants which 
fringed the garden we saw the baleful 
glimmer of a pair of fiery eyes. 

"Parbleu, you dare defy me— me?” the 
little Frenchman cried, and vaulted nim¬ 
bly from the window, landing sure-footed 
as a panther on the rain-soaked garden 
mold, then charging at the lurking horror 
as though it had been harmless as a kitten. 

"Oh, he’ll be killed; no mortal man 
can stand against a vrykolakas!” cried 
Sarah Leigh, wringing her slim hands to¬ 
gether in an agony of terror. "Oh, God 
in heaven, spare-” 

A fusillade of crackling shots cut 
through her prayer, and we heard a short, 
sharp yelp of pain, then the voice of Jules 
de Grandin hurling imprecations in min¬ 
gled French and English. A moment 
later: 

"Give me a hand, Friend Trowbridge,” 
he called from underneath the window. 
"It was a simple matter to come down, 
but climbing back is something else 
again. 

"Merci," he acknowledged as he re¬ 
gained the library and turned his quick. 


288 


WEIRD TALES 


elfin grin on. each of us in turn. Dusting 
his hands against each other, to clear 
them of the dampness from the window¬ 
sill, he felt for his cigarette case, chose 
a "Maryland” and tapped it lightly on 
his finger-nail. 

" Tiens, I damn think he will know 
his master’s voice in future, that one,” 
he informed us. “I did not quite suc¬ 
ceed in killing him to death, unfortunate¬ 
ly, but I think that it will be some time 
before he comes and cries beneath this 
lady’s window again. Yes. Had the sale 
poltron but had the courage to stand 
against me, I should certainly have killed 
him; but as it was”—he spread his hands 
and raised his shoulders eloquently—"it 
is difficult to hit a running shadow, and 
he offered little better mark in the dark¬ 
ness. I think I wounded him in the left 
hand, but I can not surely say.” 

He paused a moment, then, seeming to 
remember, turned again to Sarah Leigh 
with a ceremonious bow. ' 'Pardon, Made¬ 
moiselle,” he apologized, "you were say¬ 
ing, when we were so discourteously in¬ 
terrupted-” he smiled at her expect¬ 

antly. 

"Doctor de Grandin,” wondering in¬ 
credulity was in the girl’s eyes and voice 
as she looked at him, "you shot him— 
wounded-him?” 

"Perfectly, Mademoiselle ” he patted 
the waxed ends of his mustache with af¬ 
fectionate concern, "my marksmanship 
was execrable, but at least I hit him. That 
was something.” 

"But in Greece they used to say—I’ve 
always heard that only silver bullets were 
effective against a vrykolakas; either sil¬ 
ver bullets or a sword of finely tempered 
steel, so-” 

"Ah bah!" he interrupted with a laugh. 
"What did they know of modern ord¬ 
nance, those old-time ritualists? Silver 
bullets were decreed because silver is a 


harder metal than lead, and the olden 
guns they used in ancient days were not 
adapted to shoot balls of iron. The pis¬ 
tols of today shoot slugs encased in cupro¬ 
nickel, far harder than the best of iron, 
and with a striking-force undreamed of 
in the days when firearms were a new in¬ 
vention. Tiens, had the good Saint George 
possessed a modem military rifle he could 
have slain the dragon at his leisure while 
he stood a mile away. Had Saint Michel 
had a machine-gun, his victory over Luci¬ 
fer could have been accomplished in thirty 
seconds by the watch.” 

Having delivered himself of this scan¬ 
dalous opinion, he reseated himself on 
the divan and smiled at her, for all the 
world like the family cat which has just 
breakfasted on the household canary. 

"And how was it that this so valiant 
runner-away-from-Jules-de-Grandin an¬ 
nounced himself to you, Mademoiselle?" 
he asked. 

“T was dressing to go out this mom- 
-S. ing,” she replied, “when the ’phone 
rang, and when I answered it no one re¬ 
plied to my 'hello.’ Then, just as I be¬ 
gan to think they’d given some one a 
wrong number, and was about to put the 
instrument down, there came one of those 
awful, wailing howls across the wire. No 
word at all, sir, just that long-drawn, 
quavering howl, like what you heard a 
little while ago. 

"You can imagine how it frightened 
me. I’d almost managed to put George 
from my mind, telling myself that the 
vision of lycanthropy which I had in 
Smyrna was some sort of hypnotism, and 
that there really weren’t such things as 
werewolves, and even if there were, this 
was practical America, where I needn’t 
fear them—then came that dreadful 
howl, the sort of howl I’d heard—and 
given!—in my vision in the Smyrna gar¬ 
den, and I knew there are such things 
W. T.—1 


THE THING IN THE FOG 


as werewolves, and that one of them pos¬ 
sessed me, soul and body, and that I’d 
have to go to him if he demanded it 

"Most of all, though, I thought of 
John, for if the werewolf were in Amer¬ 
ica he’d surely read the notice of our 
coming marriage, and the first thing I 
remembered was his threat to kill any one 
who tried to come between us.” 

She turned to Maxwell with a pensive 
smile. "You know how I’ve been worry¬ 
ing you all day, dear,” she asked, "how 
I begged you not to go out to that din¬ 
ner tonight, and when you said you must, 
how I made you promise that you’d call 
me as soon as you got home, but on no 
account to call me before you were safely 
back in your apartment? 

"I’ve been in a perfect agony of appre¬ 
hension all evening,” she told us, "and 
when John called from Doctor Trow¬ 
bridge’s office I felt as though a great 
weight had been lifted from my heart.” 

"And did you try to trace the call?” 
the little Frenchman asked. 

"Yes, but it had been dialed from a 
downtown pay station, so it was impos¬ 
sible to find it.” 

De Grandin took his chin between his 
thumb and forefinger and gazed thought¬ 
fully at the tips of his patent-leather eve¬ 
ning shoes. "U’m?” he murmured; then: 
"What does he look like, this so gallant 
persecutor of women, Mademoiselle? 
'He is handsome,’ you have said, which 
is of interest, certainly, but not especially 
instructive. Can you be more specific? 
Since he is a Greek, one assumes that he 
is dark, but-” 

"No, he’s not,” she interrupted. "His 
eyes are blue and his hair is rather light, 
though his beard—he used to wear one, 
though he may be smooth-shaven now— 
is quite dark, almost black. Indeed, in 
certain lights it seems to have an almost 
bluish tinge.” 

W. T.—2 


"Ah, so? Une barbe bleu?” de Gran¬ 
din answered sharply. "One might have 
thought as much. Such beards, ma chere, 
are the sign-manual of those who traffic 
with the Devil. Gilles de Retz, the vilest 
monster who ever cast insult on the hu¬ 
man race by wearing human form, was 
light of hair and blue-black as to beard. 
It is from him we get the most unpleas¬ 
ant fairy-tale of Bluebeard, though the 
gentleman who dispatched his wives for 
showing too much curiosity was a lamb 
and sucking dove beside the one whose 
name he bears. 

"Very well. Have you a photograph 
of him, by any happy chance?” 

"No; I did have one, but I burned it 
years ago.’’ 

"A pity, Mademoiselle; our task would 
be made easier if we had his likeness as 
a guide. But we shall find him other¬ 
wise.” 

"How?” asked Maxwell and I in 
chorus. 

"There was a time,” he answered, 
"when the revelations of a patient to his 
doctor were considered privileged com¬ 
munications. Since prohibition came to 
blight your land, however, and the gang¬ 
ster’s gun has written history in blood, 
the physicians are required to note the 
names and addresses of those who come 
to them with gunshot wounds, and this 
information is collected by the police each 
day. Now, we know that I have wounded 
this one. He will undoubtlessly seek 
medical assistance for his hurt. Voila, I 
shall go down to the police headquarters, 
look upon the records of those treated 
for injuries from bullets, and by a process 
of elimination we shall find him. You 
apprehend?” 

"But suppose he doesn’t go to a physi¬ 
cian?” young Maxwell interposed. 

"In that event we have to find some 
other way to find him,” de Grandin an- 


290 


WEIRD TALES 


swcred with a smile, "but that is a stream 
which we shall cross when we have ar¬ 
rived upon its shore. Meantime”—he 
rose and bowed politely to our hostess— 
"it is getting late. Mademoiselle, and we 
have trespassed on your time too long 
already. We shall convoy Monsieur Max¬ 
well safely home, and see him lock his 
door, and if you will keep your doors 
and windows barred, I do not think that 
you have anything to fear. The gentle¬ 
man who seems also to be a wolf has his 
wounded paw to nurse, and that will 
keep him busy the remainder of the 
night.” 

With a movement of his eyes he bade 
me leave the room, following closely on 
my heels and closing the door behind 
him. "If we must separate them the least 
which we can do is give them twenty lit¬ 
tle minutes for good-night,” he mur¬ 
mured as we donned our mackintoshes. 

"Twenty minutes?” I expostulated. 
"Why, he could say good-night to twenty 
girls in twenty minutes!” 

"Out-da, certainement; or a hundred,” 
he agreed, "but not to the one girl, my 
good friend. Ah bah, Friend Trowbridge, 
did you never love; did you never wor¬ 
ship at the small, white feet of some be¬ 
loved woman? Did you never feel your 
breath come faster and your blood pound 
wildly at your temples as you took her 
in your arms and put your lips against 
her mouth? If not— grand Dieu des pores 
—then you have never lived at all, though 
you be older than Methuselah!” 

R unning our quarry to earth proved 
- a harder task than we had antici¬ 
pated. Daylight had scarcely come when 
de Grandin visited the police, but for all 
he discovered he might have stayed at 
home. Oily four cases of gunshot wounds 
had been reported during the preceding 
night, and two of the injured men were 
negroes, a third a voluble but undoubted¬ 


ly Italian laborer who had quarreled with 
some fellow countrymen over a card 
game, while the fourth was a thin-faced, 
tight-lipped gangster who eyed us satur- 
ninely and murmured, "Never mind who 
done it; I’ll be seein’ ’im,” evidently under 
the misapprehension that we were emis¬ 
saries of the police. 

The next day and the next produced 
no more results. Gunshot wounds there 
were, but none in the hand, where de 
Grandin declared he had wounded the 
nocturnal visitant, and though he fol¬ 
lowed every lead assiduously, in every 
case he drew a blank. 

He was almost beside himself on the 
fourth day of fruitless search; by eve¬ 
ning I was on the point of prescribing 
triple bromides, for he paced the study 
restlessly, snapping his fingers, tweaking 
the waxed ends of his mustache till I 
made sure he would pull the hairs loose 
from his lip, and murmuring appalling 
blasphemies in mingled French and 
English. 

At length, when I thought that I could 
stand his restless striding no longer, di¬ 
version came in the form of a telephone 
call. He seized the instrument peevishly, 
but no sooner had he barked a sharp 
"Alio?” than his whole expression changed 
and a quick smile ran across his face, 
like sunshine breaking through a cloud. 

"But certainly; of course, assuredly!” 
he cried delightedly. Then, to me: 

"Your hat and coat, Friend Trowbridge, 
and hurry, pour l’amour d’un tetard — 
they are marrying!” 

"Marrying?’ I echoed wonderingly. 
"Who-” 

"Who but Mademoiselle Sarah and 
Monsieur Jean, parbleu?” he answered 
with a grin. "Oh, la, la, at last they 
show some sense, those ones. He has 
broken her resistance down, and she con¬ 
sents, werewolf or no werewolf. No'wr 


THE THING IN THE FOG 


291 


we shall surely make the long nose at 
that sacre singe who howled beneath her 
window when we called upon her!” 

The ceremony was to be performed in 
the sacristy of St. Barnabas’ Church, for 
John and Sarah, shocked and saddened 
by the death of young Fred Suffrige, who 
was to have been their best man, had re¬ 
called the invitations and decided on a 
private wedding with only her aunt and 
his mother present in addition to de Gran- 
din and me. 

“T'\e arl y beloved, we are gathered 

U together here in the sight of God 
and in the face of this company to join 
together this man and this woman in holy 
matrimony,” began the rector, Doctor 
Higginbotham, who, despite the informal¬ 
ity of the occasion, was attired in all the 
panoply of a high church priest and ac¬ 
companied by two gorgeously accoutered 
and greatly interested choir-boys who 
served as acolytes. "Into this holy estate 
these two persons come now to be joined. 
If any man can show just cause why they 
should not lawfully be joined together, 
let him now speak, or else hereafter for 
ever hold his peace-” 

"Jeez!” exclaimed the choir youth who 
stood upon the rector’s left, letting fall 
the censer from his hands and dodging 
nimbly back, as from a threatened blow. 

The interruption fell upon the solemn 
scene like a bombshell at a funeral, and 
one and all of us looked at the cowering 
youngster, whose eyes were fairly bulg¬ 
ing from his face and whose ruddy coun¬ 
tenance had gone a sickly, pasty gray, so 
that the thick-strewn freckles started out 
in contrast, like spots of rouge upon a 
corpse’s pallid cheeks. 

"Why, William-” Doctor Higgin¬ 

botham began in a shocked voice; but: 

Rat, tat-tat! sounded the sudden sharp 
clatter of knuckles against the window- 


pane, and for the first time we realized 
it had been toward this window the boy 
had looked when his sacrilegious ex¬ 
clamation broke in on the service. 

Staring at us through the glass we saw 
a great, gray wolf! Yet it was not a 
wolf, for about the lupine jaws and jowls 
was something hideously reminiscent of 
a human face, and the greenish, phos¬ 
phorescent glow of those great, glaring 
eyes had surely never shone in any face, 
animal or human. As I looked, breath¬ 
less, the monster raised its head, and 
strangling horror gripped my throat with 
fiery fingers as I saw a human-seeming 
neck beneath it. Long and grisly-thin it 
was, corded and sinewed like the desic¬ 
cated gula of a lich, and, like the face, 
covered with a coat of gray-brown fur. 
Then a hand, hair-covered like the throat 
and face, slim as a woman’s—or a mum¬ 
my’s!—but terribly misshapen, fingers 
tipped with blood-red talon-nails, rose up 
and struck the glass again. My scalp was 
fairly crawling with sheer terror, and my 
breath came hot and sulfurous in my 
throat as I wondered how much longer 
the frail glass could stand against the 
impact of those bony, hair-gloved hands. 

A strangled scream behind me sounded 
from Sarah’s aunt, Miss Leigh, and I 
heard the muffled thud as she toppled to 
the floor in a dead faint, but I could no 
more turn my gaze from the horror at the 
window than the fascinated bird can tear 
its eyes from the serpent’s numbing stare. 

Another sighing exclamation and an¬ 
other thudding impact. John Maxwell’s 
mother was unconscious on the floor be¬ 
side Miss Leigh, but still I stood and 
stared in frozen terror at the thing be¬ 
yond the window. 

Doctor Higginbotham’s teeth were 
chattering, and his ruddy, plethoric coun¬ 
tenance was death-gray as he faced the 
staring horror, but he held fast to his 
faith. 


292 


WEIRD TALES 


"Conjuro te, sceleratissime, abire ad 
tuum locum” —he began the sonorous 
Latin exorcism, signing himself with his 
right hand and advancing his pectoral 
cross toward the thing at the window 
with his left—"I exorcise thee, most foul 
spirit, creature of darkness-” 

The corners of the wolf-thing’s devil¬ 
ish eyes contracted in a smile of malevo¬ 
lent amusement, and a rim of scarlet 
tongue flicked its black muzzle. Doctor 
Higginbotham’s exorcism, bravely begun, 
ended on a wheezing, stifled syllable, and 
he stared in round-eyed fascination, his 
thick lips, blue with terror, opening and 
closing, but emitting no sound. 

"Sang d’un cochon, not that way, Mon¬ 
sieur —this!” cried Jules de Grandin, and 
the roar of his revolver split the paralysis 
of quiet which had gripped the little 
chapel. A thin, silvery tinkle of glass 
sounded as the bullet tore through the 
window, and the grisly face abruptly dis¬ 
appeared, but from somewhere in the 
outside dark there echoed back a braying 
howl which seemed to hold a sort of ob¬ 
scene laughter in its quavering notes. 

"Sapristi! Have I missed him?” de 
Grandin asked incredulously. "No mat¬ 
ter; he is gone. On with the service, Mon¬ 
sieur le Cure. I do not think we shall be 
interrupted further.” 

"No!” Doctor Higginbotham backed 
away from Sarah Leigh as though her 
breath polluted him. "I can perform no 
marriage until that thing has been ex¬ 
plained. Some one here is haunted by a 
devil—a malign entity from hell which 
will not heed the exorcism of the Church 
—and until I’m satisfied concerning it, 
and that you’re all good Christians, 
there’ll be no ceremony in this church!” 

"Eh bien, Monsieur, who can say what 
constitutes a good Christian?” de Gran¬ 
din smiled unpleasantly at Doctor Hig¬ 
ginbotham. "Certainly one who lacks m 


charity as you do can not be competent 
to judge. Have it as you wish. As soon 
as we have recovered these fainting ladies, 
we shall leave, and may the Devil grill 
me on the grates of hell if ever we come 
back until you have apologized.” 

T vro hours later, as we sat in the Leigh 
library, Sarah dried her eyes and faced 
her lover with an air of final resolution: 
“You see, my dear, it’s utterly impossible 
for me to marry you, or any one,” she 
said. “That awful thing will dog my 
steps, and-” 

“My poor, sweet girl, I’m more deter¬ 
mined than ever to marry you!” John 
broke in. “If you’re to be haunted by a 
thing like that, you need me every min¬ 
ute, and-” 

"Bravo!” applauded Jules de Grandin. 
“Well said, mon vieux, but we waste 
precious time. Come, let us go.” 

“Where?” asked John Maxwell, but 
the little Frenchman only smiled and 
shrugged his shoulders. 

“To Maidstone Crossing, quickly, if 
you please, my friend,” he whispered 
when he had led the lovers to my car and 
seen solicitously to their comfortable seat¬ 
ing in the tonneau. “I know a certain 
justice of the peace there who would 
marry the Witch of Endor to the Emperor 
Nero though all the wolves which ever 
plagued Red Riding-Hood forbade the 
banns, provided only we supply him with 
sufficient fee.” 

Two hours’ drive brought us to the 
little hamlet of Maidstone Crossing, and 
de Grandin’s furious knocking on the 
door of a small cottage evoked the pres¬ 
ence of a lank, lean man attired in a pair 
of corduroy trousers drawn hastily above 
the folds of a canton-flannel nightshirt. 

A whispered colloquy between the rus¬ 
tic and the slim, elegant little Parisian; 
then: “O. K., Doc,” the justice of the 


THE THING IN THE FOG 


293 


peace conceded. "Bring ’em in; I’ll mar¬ 
ry ’em, an’—hey, Sam’l!” he called up the 
stairs. "C’mon down, an’ bring yer shot¬ 
gun. There’s a weddin’ goin’ to be pulled 
off, an’ they tell me some fresh guys may 
try to interfere!” 

"Sam’l,” a lank, lean youth whose cos¬ 
tume duplicated that of his father, de¬ 
scended the stairway grinning, an auto¬ 
matic shotgun cradled in the hollow of 
his arm. "D’ye expect any real rough 
stuff?” he asked. 

"Seems like they’re apt to try an’ set 
a dawg on ’em,” his father answered, and 
the younger man grinned cheerfully. 

"Dawgs, is it?” he replied. "Dawgs is 
my dish. Go on, Pap, do yer stuff. Good 
luck, folks,” he winked encouragingly at 
John and Sarah and stepped out on the 
porch, his gun in readiness. 

"Do you take this here woman fer yer 
lawful, wedded wife?” the justice in¬ 
quired of John Maxwell, and when the 
latter answered that he did: 

"An’ do you take this here now man to 
be yer wedded husband?” he asked 
Sarah. 

"I do,” the girl responded in a trem¬ 
bling whisper, and the roaring bellow of 
a shotgun punctuated the brief pause be¬ 
fore the squire concluded: 

"Then by virtue of th’ authority vested 
in me by th’ law an’ constitootion of this 
state, I do declare ye man an’ wife—an’ 
whoever says that ye ain’t married law¬ 
fully ’s a danged liar,” he added as a sort 
of afterthought. 

"What wuz it that ye shot at, Sam’l?” 
asked the justice as, enriched by fifty dol¬ 
lars, and grinning appreciatively at the 
evening’s profitable business, he ushered 
us from the house. 

"Durned if I know, Pap,” the other 
answered. "Looked kind o’ funny to me. 
He wuz about a head taller’n me—an’ 
I’m six foot two—an’ thin as Job’s tur¬ 


key-hen, to boot. His clothes looked skin¬ 
tight on ’im, an’ he had on a cap, or sum- 
pin with a peak that stuck out over his 
face. I first seen 'im cornin’ up th’ road, 
kind o’ lookin’ this way an’ that, like as 
if he warn’t quite certain o’ his way. 
Then, all of a suddent, he kind o’ stopped 
an’ threw his head back, like a dawg 
sniffin’ th’ air, an’ started to go down on 
his all-fours, like he wuz goin’ to sneak 
up on th’ house. So I hauls off an’ lets 
’im have a tickle o’ buckshot. Don’t know 
whether I hit ’im or not, an’ I’ll bet he 
don’t, needier; he sure didn’t waste no 
time stoppin’ to find out. Could he run! 
I’m tellin’ ye, that feller must be in Har- 
risonville by now, if he kep’ on goin’ 
like he started!” 

T wo days of feverish activity ensued. 

Last-minute traveling arrangements 
had to be made, and passports for "John 
Maxwell and wife, Harrisonville, New 
Jersey, U. S. A.,” obtained. De Grandin 
spent every waking hour with the newly 
married couple and even insisted on oc¬ 
cupying a room in the Leigh house at 
night; but his precautions seemed un¬ 
necessary, for not so much as a whimper 
sounded under Sarah’s window, and 
though the little Frenchman searched 
the garden every morning, there was no 
trace of unfamiliar footprints, either brute 
or human, to be found. 

"Looks as if Sallie’s Greek boy friend 
knows when he’s licked and has decided 
to quit following her about,” John Max¬ 
well grinned as he and Sarah, radiant 
with happiness, stood upon the deck of 
the lie de France. 

"One hopes so,” de Grandin answered 
with a smile. "Good luck, mes amis, and 
may your lune de miel shine as brightly 
throughout all your lives as it does this 
night. 

"La lune —ha?” he repeated half mus- 


294 


WEIRD TALES 


ingly, half with surprize, as though he 
just remembered some important thing 
which had inadvertently slipped his mem¬ 
ory. "May I speak a private warning in 
your ear. Friend Jean?” He drew the 
bridegroom aside and whispered earnest¬ 
ly a moment. 

"Oh, bosh!” the other laughed as they 
rejoined us. "That’s all behind us. Doc¬ 
tor; you’ll see; we’ll never hear a sound 
from him. He’s got me to deal with now, 
not just poor Sarah.” 

"Bravely spoken, little cabbage!” the 
Frenchman applauded. "Bon voyage.” 
But there was a serious expression on his 
face as we went down the gangway. 

"What was the private warning you 
gave John?” I asked as we left the French 
Line piers. "He didn’t seem to take it 
very seriously.” 

"No,” he conceded. "I wish he had. 
But youth is always brave and reckless 
in its own conceit. It was about the 
moon. She has a strange influence on 
lycanthropy. The werewolf metamor¬ 
phoses more easily in the full of the 
moon than at any other time, and those 
who may have been affected with his 
virus, though even faintly, are most apt 
to feel its spell when the moon is at the 
full. I warned him to be particularly 
careful of his lady on moonlit nights, and 
on no account to go anywhere after dark 
unless he were armed. 

"The werewolf is really an inferior 
demon,” he continued as we boarded the 
Hoboken ferry. "Just what he is we do 
not know with certainty, though we know 
he has existed from the earliest times; 
for many writers of antiquity mention 
him. Sometimes he is said to be a mag¬ 
ical wolf who has the power to become a 
man. More often he is said to be a man 
who can become a wolf at times, some¬ 
times of his own volition, sometimes at 
stated seasons, even against his will. He 


has dreadful powers of destructiveness; 
for the man who is also a wolf is ten 
times more deadly than the wolf who is 
only a wolf. He has the wolf’s great 
strength and savagery, but human cunning 
with it. At night he quests and kills his 
prey, which is most often his fellow man, 
but sometimes sheep or hares, or his an¬ 
cient enemy, the dog. By day he hides 
his villainy—and the location of his lair 
—under human guise. 

"However, he has this weakness: strong 
and ferocious, cunning and malicious as 
he is, he can be killed as easily as any 
natural wolf. A sharp sword will slay 
him, a well-aimed bullet puts an end to 
his career; the wood of the thorn-bush 
and the mountain ash are so repugnant 
to him that he will slink away if beaten 
or merely threatened with a switch of 
either. Weapons efficacious against an 
ordinary physical foe are potent against 
him, while charms and exorcisms which 
would put a true demon to flight are 
powerless. 

"You saw how he mocked at Mon¬ 
sieur Higginbotham in the sacristy the 
other night, by example. But he did not 
stop to bandy words with me. Oh, no. 
He knows that I shoot straight and quick, 
and he had already felt my lead on one 
occasion. If young Friend Jean will al¬ 
ways go well-armed, he has no need to 
fear; but if he be taken off his guard— 
eh bien, we can not always be on hand 
to rescue him as we did the night when 
we first met him. No, certainly.” 

"But why do you fear for Sarah?” I 
persisted. 

"I hardly know,” he answered. "Per¬ 
haps it is that I have what you Americans 
so drolly call the hunch. Werewolves 
sometimes become werewolves by the aid 
of Satan, that they may kill their ene¬ 
mies while in lupine form, or satisfy their 
natural lust for blood and cruelty while 


THE THING IN THE FOG 


295 


disguised as beasts. Some are transformed 
as the result of a curse upon themselves 
or their families, a few are metamor¬ 
phosed by accident. These are the most 
unfortunate of all. In certain parts of 
Europe, notably in Greece, Russia and the 
Balkan states, the very soil seems cursed 
with lycanthropic power. There are cer¬ 
tain places where, if the unwary traveler 
lies down to sleep, he is apt to wake up 
with the curse of werewolfism on him. 
Certain streams and springs there are 
which, if drunk from, will render the 
drinker liable to transformation at the 
next full moon, and regularly thereafter. 
You will recall that in the dream, or 
vision, which Madame Sarah had while 
in the Smyrna garden so long ago, she 
beheld herself drinking from a woodland 
pool? I do not surely know, my friend, 
I have not even good grounds for sus¬ 
picion, but something—something which 
I can not name—tells me that in some 
way this poor one, who is so wholly inno¬ 
cent, has been branded with the taint of 
lycanthropy. How it came about I can 
not say, but-” 

My mind had been busily engaged with 
other problems, and I had listened to his 
disquisition on lycanthropy with some¬ 
thing less than full attention. Now, sud¬ 
denly aware of the thing which puzzled 
me, I interrupted: 

"Can you explain the form that were¬ 
wolf—if that’s what it was—took on 
different occasions? The night we met 
John Maxwell he was fighting for his 
life with as true a wolf as any there are 
in the zoological gardens. O’Brien, the 
policeman, saw it, too, and shot at it, 
after it had killed Fred Suffrige. It was 
a sure-enough wolf when it howled under 
Sarah’s window and you wounded it; yet 
when it interrupted the wedding it was 
an awful combination of wolf and man, 
dr man and wolf, and the thing the jus¬ 


tice’s son drove off with his shotgun was 
the same, according to his description.” 

Surprizingly, he did not take offense 
at my interruption. Instead, he frowned 
in thoughtful silence at the dashboard 
lights a moment; then: "Sometimes the 
werewolf is completely transformed from 
man to beast,” he answered; "sometimes 
he is a hideous combination of the two, 
but always he is a fiend incarnate. My 
own belief is that this one was only partly 
transformed when we last saw him be¬ 
cause he had not time to wait complete 
metamorphosis. It is possible he could 

not change completely, too, because-” 

he broke off and pointed at the sky sig¬ 
nificantly. 

"Well?” I demanded as he made no 
further effort to proceed. 

"Non, it is not well,” he denied, "but 
it may be important. Do you observe 
the moon tonight?” 

"Why, yes.” 

"What quarter is it in?” 

"The last; it’s waning fast.” 

"Prechement. As I was saying, it may 
be that his powers to metamorphose him¬ 
self were weakened because of the wan¬ 
ing of the moon. Remember, if you 
please, his power for evil is at its height 
when the moon is at the full, and as it 
wanes, his powers become less and less. 
At the darkening of the moon, he is at 
his weakest, and then is the time for us 
to strike—if only we could find him. But 
he will lie well hidden at such times, 
never fear. He is clever with a devilish 
cunningness, that one.” 

"Oh, you’re fantastic!” I burst out. 

"You say so, having seen what you 
have seen?” 

"Well, I’ll admit we’ve seen some 
things which are mighty hard to explain,” 
I conceded, "but-” 

“But we are arrived at home; Mon¬ 
sieur and Madame Maxwell are safe upon 


296 


WEIRD TALES 


the ocean, and I am vilely thirsty,” he 
broke in. "Come, let us take a drink and 
go to bed, my friend.” 

W ith midwinter came John and 
Sarah Maxwell, back from their 
honeymoon in Paris and on the Riviera. 
A week before their advent, notices in 
the society columns told of their home¬ 
coming, and a week after their return 
an engraved invitation apprised de Gran- 
din and me that the honor of our pres¬ 
ence was requested at a reception in the 
Leigh mansion, where they had taken 
residence. "... and please come early 
and stay late; there are a million things 
I want to talk about,” Sarah pencilled at 
the bottom of our card. 

Jules de Grandin was more than usual¬ 
ly ornate on the night of the reception. 
His London-tailored evening clothes were 
knife-sharp in their creases; about his 
neck hung the insignia of the Legion 
d’Honneur; a row of miniature medals, 
including the French and Belgian war 
crosses, the Medaille Militaire and the 
Italian Medal of Valor, decorated the 
left breast of his faultless evening coat; 
his little, wheat-blond mustache was 
waxed to needle-sharpness and his sleek 
blond hair was brilliantined and brushed 
till it fitted flat upon his shapely little 
head as a skull-cap of beige satin. 

Lights blazed from every window of 
the house as we drew up beneath the 
porte-cochere. Inside all was laughter, 
staccato conversation and the odd, not 
unpleasant odor rising from the mingling 
of the hundred or more individual scents 
affected by the women guests. Summer 
was still near enough for the men to re¬ 
tain the tan of mountain and seashore on 
their faces and for a velvet vestige of 
veneer of painfully acquired sun-tan to 
show upon the women’s arms and shoul¬ 
ders. 


We tendered our congratulations to 
the homing newlyweds; then de Grandin 
plucked me by the sleeve. “Come away, 
my friend,” he whispered in an almost 
tragic voice. "Come quickly, or these 
thirsty ones will have drunk up all the 
punch containing rum and champagne and 
left us only lemonade!” 

The evening passed with pleasant 
swiftness, and guests began to leave. 
“Where’s Sallie—seen her?” asked John 
Maxwell, interrupting a rather Rabelaisian 
story which deGrandin was retailing with 
gusto to several appreciative young men 
in the conservatory. “The Carter-Brooks 
are leaving, and-” 

De Grandin brought his story to a close 
with the suddenness of a descending 
theater curtain, and a look of something 
like consternation shone in his small, 
round eyes. “She is not here?” he asked 
sharply. "When did you last see her?” 

"Oh,” John answered vaguely, "just 
a little while ago; we danced the 'Blue 
Danube’ together, then she went upstairs 
for something, and-” 

"Quick, swiftly!” de Grandin inter¬ 
rupted. "Pardon, Messieurs," he bowed 
to his late audience and, beckoning me, 
strode toward the stairs. 

"I say, what’s the rush-” began 

John Maxwell, but: 

"Every reason under heaven,” the 
Frenchman broke in shortly. To me: 
"Did you observe the night outside. 
Friend Trowbridge?” 

"Why, yes,” I answered. "Its a beau¬ 
tiful moonlit night, almost bright as day, 
and-” 

"And there you are, for the love of 
ten thousand pigs!” he cut in. “Oh, I 
am the stupid-headed fool, me! Why did 
I let her from my sight?” 

We followed in wondering silence as 
he climbed the stairs, hurried down the 
hall toward Sarah’s room and paused be- 


THE THING IN THE TOG 


297 


fore her door. He raised his hand to rap, 
but the portal swung away, and a girl 
stood staring at us from the threshold. 

"Did it pass you?” she asked, regard¬ 
ing us in wide-eyed wonder. 

"Pardon, Mademoiselle?” de Grandin 
countered. "What is it that you ask?” 

"Why, did you see that lovely collie, 
it-” 

"Cher Dieu,” the words were like a 
groan upon the little Frenchman’s lips 
as he looked at her in horror. Then, re¬ 
covering himself: "Proceed, Mademoi¬ 
selle, it was of a dog you spoke?” 

"Yes,” she returned. "I came upstairs 
to freshen up, and found I’d lost my 
compact somewhere, so I came to Sallie’s 
room to get some powder. She’d come up 
a few moments before, and I was posi¬ 
tive I’d find her here, but-” she 

paused in puzzlement a moment; then: 
"But when I came in there was no one 
here. Her dress was lying on the chaise- 
longue there, as though she’d slipped it 
off, and by the window, looking out with 
its paws up on the sill, was the loveliest 
silver collie. 

"I didn’t know you had a dog, John,” 
she turned to Maxwell. "When did you 
get it? It’s the loveliest creature, but it 
seemed to be afraid of me; for when I 
went to pat it, it slunk away, and before 
I realized it had bolted through the door, 
which I’d left open. It ran down the 
hall.” 

"A dog?” John Maxwell answered be- 
wilderedly. "We haven’t any dog, Nell; 
it must have been-” 

"Never mind what it was,” de Gran¬ 
din interrupted as the girl went down the 
hall, and as she passed out of hearing 
he seized us by the elbows and fairly 
thrust us into Sarah’s room, closing the 
door quickly behind us. 


“TTThat -” began John Maxwell, 

v v but the Frenchman motioned him 
to silence. 

"Behold, regard each item carefully; 
stamp them upon your memories,” he 
ordered, sweeping the charming chamber 
with his sharp, stock-taking glance. 

A fire burned brightly in the open 
grate, parchment-shaded lamps diffused 
soft light. Upon the bed there lay a pair 
of rose-silk pajamas, with a sheer crepe 
negligee beside them. A pair of satin 
mules were placed toes in upon the bed¬ 
side rug. Across the chaise-longue was 
draped, as though discarded in the ut¬ 
most haste, the white-satin evening gown 
that Sarah had worn. Upon the floor beside 
the lounge were crumpled wisps of ivory 
crepe de Chine, her bandeau and trunks. 
Sarah, being wholly modern, had worn 
no stockings, but her white-and-silver 
evening sandals lay beside the lingerie, 
one on its sole, as though she had stepped 
out of it, the other on its side, gaping 
emptily, as though kicked from her little 
pink-and-white foot in panic haste. There 
was something ominous about that silent 
room; it was like a body from which the 
spirit had departed, still beautiful and 
warm, but lifeless. 

"Humph,” Maxwell muttered, "the 
Devil knows where she’s gone-” 

"He knows very, exceedingly well, I 
have no doubt,” de Grandin interrupted. 
"But we do not. Now— ah? Ah-ah-ab?” 
his exclamation rose steadily, thinning to 
a sharpness like a razor’s cutting-edge. 
"What have we here?” 

Like a hound upon the trail, guided by 
scent alone, he crossed the room and 
halted by the dressing-table. Before the 
mirror stood an uncorked flask of per¬ 
fume, lovely thing of polished crystal 
decorated with silver basketwork. From 
its open neck there rose a thin but pene¬ 
trating scent, not wholly sweet nor wholly 


298 


WEIRD TALES 


acrid, but a not unpleasant combination 
of the two, as though musk and flower- 
scent had each lent it something of their 
savors. 

The little Frenchman put it to his 
nose, then set it down with a grimace. 
"Name of an Indian pig, how comes this 
devil’s brew here?” he asked. 

"Oh, that?” Maxwell answered. 
"Hanged if I know. Some unknown ad¬ 
mirer of Sallie’s sent it to her. It came 
today, all wrapped up like something 
from a jeweler’s. Rather pleasant-smell¬ 
ing, isn’t it?” 

De Grandin looked at him as Torque- 
mada might have looked at one accusing 
him of loving Martin Luther. "Did you 
by any chance make use of it, Monsieur?” 
he asked in an almost soundless whisper. 

"I? Good Lord, do I look like the sort 
of he-thing who’d use perfume?” the 
Other asked. 

"Bien, I did but ask to know,” de 
Grandin answered as he jammed the sil¬ 
ver-mounted stopper in the bottle and 
thrust the flask into his trousers pocket. 

"But where the deuce is Sallie?” the 
young husband persisted. "She’s changed 
her clothes, that’s certain; but what did 
she go out for, and if she didn’t go cut, 
where is she?” 

"Ah, it may be that she had a sudden 
feeling of faintness, and decided to go 
out into the air,” the Frenchman tem¬ 
porized. "Come, Monsieur, the guests 
are waiting to depart, and you must say 
adieu. Tell them that your lady is in¬ 
disposed, make excuses, tell them any¬ 
thing, but get them out all quickly; we 
have work to do.” 

J ohn maxwell lied gallantly, de 
Grandin and I standing at his side 
to prevent any officious dowager from 
mounting the stairs and administering 
home-made medical assistance. At last, 


when all were gone, the young man 
turned to Jules de Grandin, and: 

"Now, out with it,” he ordered gruf¬ 
fly. "I can tell by your manner some¬ 
thing serious has happened. What is it, 
man; what is it?” 

De Grandin patted him upon the 
shoulder with a mixture of affection and 
commiseration in the gesture. "Be 
brave, mon vieux," he ordered softly. "It 
is the worst. He has her in his power; 
she has gone to join him, for —pitie de 
Dieu !—she has become like him.” 

"Wha—what?” the husband quavered. 
"You mean she—that Sallie, my Sallie, 

has become a were-” his voice balked 

at the final syllable, but de Grandin’s nod 
confirmed his guess. 

"Helas, you have said it, my poor 
friend,” he murmured pitifully. 

"But how?—when?—I thought surely 

we’d driven him off-” the young man 

faltered, then stopped, horror choking 
the words back in his throat. 

"Unfortunately, no,” de Grandin told 
him. "He was driven off, certainly, but 
not diverted from his purpose. Attend 
me.” 

From his trousers pocket he produced 
the vial of perfume, uncorked it and let 
its scent escape into the room. "You 
recognize it, hein?” he asked. 

"No, I can’t say I do,” Maxwell an¬ 
swered. 

“Do you, Friend Trowbridge?” 

I shook my head. 

"Very well. I do, to my sorrow.” 

He turned once more to me. "The 
night Monsieur and Madame Maxwell 
sailed upon the lie de France, you may 
recall I was explaining how the innocent 
became werewolves at times?” he re¬ 
minded. 

"Yes, and I interrupted to ask about 
the different shapes that thing assumed,” 
I nodded. 


THE THING IN THE FOG 


299 


"You interrupted then,” he agreed 
soberly, "but you will not interrupt now. 
Oh, no. You will listen while I . talk. I 
had told you of the haunted dells where 
travelers may unknowingly become were¬ 
wolves, of the streams from which the 
drinker may receive contagion, but you 
did not wait to hear of les fleurs des 
loups, did you?” 

"Fleurs des loups —wolf-flowers?” I 
asked. 

"PricisSment, wolf-flowers. Upon those 
cursed mountains grows a kind of flower 
which, plucked and worn at the full of the 
moon, transforms the wearer into a loup- 
garou. Yes. One of these flowers, known 
popularly as the fleur de sang, or blood- 
flower, because of its red petals, resem¬ 
bles the marguerite, or daisy, in form; the 
other is a golden yellow, and is much like 
the snapdragon. But both have the same 
fell property, both have the same strong, 
sweet, fascinating scent. 

"This, my friends,” he passed the 
opened flagon underneath our noses, "is 
a perfume made from the sap of those 
accursed flowers. It is the highly concen¬ 
trated venom of their devilishness. One 
applying it to her person, anointing lips, 
ears, hair and hands with it, as women 
wont, would as surely be translated into 
wolfish form as though she wore the 
cursed flower whence the perfume comes. 
Yes. 

"That silver collie of which the young 
girl spoke. Monsieur ”—he turned a 
fixed, but pitying look upon John Max¬ 
well—"she was your wife, transformed 
into a wolf-thing by the power of this 
perfume. 

"Consider: Can you not see it all? 
Balked, but not defeated, the vile vryko- 
lakas is left to perfect his revenge while 
you are on your honeymoon. He knows 
that you will come again to Harrisonville; 
he need not follow you. Accordingly, he 


sends to Europe for the essence of these 
flowers, prepares a philtre from it, and 
sends it to Madame Sarah today. Its scent 
is novel, rather pleasing; women like 
strange, exotic scents. She uses it. Anon, 
she feels a queerness. She does not realize 
that it is the metamorphosis which comes 
upon her, she only knows that she feels 
vaguely strange. She goes to her room. 
Perhaps she puts the perfume on her 
brow again, as women do when they feel 
faint; then, pardieu, then there comes the 
change all quickly, for the moon is full 
tonight, and the essence of the flowers 
very potent. 

"She doffed her clothes, you think? 
Mats non, they fell from her! A woman’s 
raiment does not fit a wolf; it falls off 
from her altered form, and we find it on 
the couch and on the floor. 

"That other girl comes to the room, 
and finds poor Madame Sarah, trans¬ 
formed to a wolf, gazing sadly from the 
window— la pauvre, she knew too well 
who waited outside in the moonlight for 
her, and she must go to him! Her friend 
puts out a hand to pet her, but she shrinks 
away. She feels she is ’unclean’, a thing 
apart, one of 'that multitudinous herd 
not yet made fast in hell’— les loups- 
garous! And so she flies through the 
open door of her room, flies where? Only 
le bon Dieu —and the Devil, who is mas¬ 
ter of all werewolves—know!” 

"But we must find her!” Maxwell 
wailed. "We’ve got to find her!” 

"Where are we to look?” de Grandin 
spread his hands and raised his shoul¬ 
ders. "The city is wide, and we have no 
idea where this wolf-man makes his lair. 
The werewolf travels fast, my friend; 
they may be miles away by now.” 

"I don’t care a damn what you say. 
I’m going out to look for her!” Maxwell 
declared as he rose from his seat and 
strode to the library table, from the draw- 


300 


WEIRD TALES 


er of which he took a heavy pistol. "You 
shot him once and wounded him, so I 
know he’s vulnerable to bullets, and when 
I find him-” 

"But certainly,” the Frenchman inter¬ 
rupted. “We heartily agree with you, my 
friend. But let us first go to Doctor Trow¬ 
bridge’s house where we, too, may secure 
weapons. Then we shall be delighted to 
accompany you upon your hunt.” 

As we started for my place he whis¬ 
pered in my ear: "Prepare the knock-out 
drops as soon as we are there, Friend 
Trowbridge. It would be suicide for him 
to seek that monster now. He can not 
hit a barn-side with a pistol, can not even 
draw it quickly from his pocket. His 
chances are not one in a million if he 
meets the wolf, and if we let him go we 
shall be playing right into the adversary’s 
hands.” 

I nodded agreement as we drove along, 
and when I’d parked the car, I turned to 
Maxwell. "Better come in and have a 
drink before we start,” I invited. “It’s 
cold tonight, and we may not get back 
soon.” 

"AH right,” agreed the unsuspecting 
youth. "But make it quick, I’m itching 
to catch sight of that damned fiend. When 
I meet him he won’t get off as easily as 
he did in his brush with Doctor de 
Grandin.” 

H astily I concocted a punch of 
Jamaica rum, hot water, lemon 
juice and sugar, adding fifteen grains of 
chloral hydrate to John Maxwell’s and 
hoping the sugar and lemon would dis¬ 
guise its taste while the pungent rum 
would hide its odor. "To our successful 
quest,” de Grandin proposed, raising his 
steaming glass and looking questioningly 
at me for assurance that the young man’s 
drink was drugged. 

Maxwell raised his goblet, but ere he 


set it to his lips there came a sudden 
interruption. An oddly whining, whim¬ 
pering noise it was, accompanied by a 
scratching at the door, as though a dog 
were outside in the night and importun¬ 
ing for admission. 

"Ah?” de Grandin put his glass down 
on the hall table and reached beneath his 
left armpit where the small but deadly 
Belgian automatic pistol nestled in its 
shoulder-holster. "Ah-ha? We have a 
visitor, it seems.” To me he bade: 

"Open the door, wide and quickly, 
Friend Trowbridge; then stand away, for 
I shall likely shoot with haste, and it is 
not your estimable self that I desire to 
kill.” 

I followed his instructions, but instead 
of the gray horror I had expected at the 
door, I saw a slender canine form with 
hair so silver-gray that it was almost 
white, which bent its head and wagged 
its tail, and fairly fawned upon us as it 
slipped quickly through the opening, 
then looked at each of us in turn with 
great, expressive topaz eyes. 

"Ah, mon Dteu,” exclaimed the French¬ 
man, sheathing his weapon and starting 
forward, "it is Madame Sarah!” 

"Sallie?” cried John Maxwell incredu¬ 
lously, and at his voice the beast leaped 
tow'ard him, rubbed against his knees, 
then rose upon its hind feet and strove 
to lick his face. 

"Ohe, quel dommage!” de Grandin 
looked at them with tear-filled eyes; then: 

"Your pardon, Madame Sarah, but I 
do not think you came to us without a 
reason. Can you lead us to the place 
where he abides? If so we promise you 
shall be avenged within the hour.” 

The silver wolf dropped to all fours 
again, and nodded its sleek head in an¬ 
swer to his question; then, as he hesi¬ 
tated, came slowly up to him, took the 


THE THING IN THE FOG 


301 


cuff of his evening coat gently in its 
teeth and drew him toward the door. 

"Bravo, ma chere, lead on, we follow!” 
he exclaimed; then, as we donned our 
coats, he thrust a pistol in my hand and 
cautioned: "Watch well, my friend, she 
seems all amiable, but wolves are treach¬ 
erous, man-wolves a thousand times more 
so; it may be he has sent her to lead us to a 
trap. Should anything untoward trans¬ 
pire, shoot first and ask your foolish ques¬ 
tions afterward. That way you shall in¬ 
crease your chances of dying peacefully 
in bed.” 

T he white beast trotting before us, 
we hastened down the quiet, moon¬ 
lit street. After forty minutes’ rapid walk, 
we stopped before a small apartment 
house. As we paused to gaze, the little 
wolf once more seized Jules de Grandin’s 
sleeve between her teeth and drew him 
forward. 

It was a little house, only three floors 
high, and its front was zigzagged with 
iron fire escapes. No lights burned in 
any of the flats, and the whole place had 
an air of vacancy, but our lupine guide 
led us through the entranceway and down 
the ground floor hall until we paused be¬ 
fore the door of a rear apartment. 

De Grandin tried the knob cautiously, 
found the lock made fast, and after a 
moment dropped to his knees, drew out 
a ringful of fine steel instruments and 
began picking the fastening as methodi¬ 
cally as though he were a professional 
burglar. The lock was "burglar-proof” 
but its makers had not reckoned with the 
skill of Jules de Grandin. Before five 
minutes had elapsed he rose with a pleased 
exclamation, turned the knob and thrust 
the door back. 

"Hold her, Friend Jean,” he bade John 
Maxwell, for the wolf was trembling 
with a nervous quiver, and straining to 


rush into the apartment. To me he added: 
"Have your gun ready, good Friend 
Trowbridge, and keep by me. He shall 
not take us unawares.” 

Shoulder to shoulder we entered the 
dark doorway of the flat, John Maxwell 
and the wolf behind us. For a moment 
we paused while de Grandin felt along 
the wall, then click; the snapping of a 
wall-switch sounded, and the dark room 
blazed with sudden light. 

The wolf-man’s human hours were 
passed in pleasant circumstances. Every 
item of the room proclaimed it the abode 
of one whose wealth and tastes were well 
matched. The walls were hung with 
light gray paper, the floor was covered 
with a Persian rug, and wide, low chairs 
upholstered in long-napped mohair in¬ 
vited the visitor to rest. Beneath the 
arch of a marble mantelpiece a wood fire 
had been laid, ready for the match, while 
upon the shelf a tiny French-gilt clock 
beat off the minutes with sharp, musical 
clicks. Pictures in profusion lined the 
walls, a landscape by an apt pupil of 
Corot, an excellent imitation of Botti¬ 
celli, and, above the mantel, a single life- 
sized portrait done in oils. 

Every item of the portrait was por¬ 
trayed with photographic fidelity, and we 
looked with interest at the subject, a man 
in early middle life, or late youth, dressed 
in the uniform of a captain’ of Greek 
cavalry. His cloak was thrown back from 
his braided shoulders, displaying several 
military decorations, but it was the face 
which captured the attention instantly, 
making all the added detail of no conse¬ 
quence. The hair was light, worn rather 
long, and brushed straight back from a 
high, wide forehead. The eyes were blue, 
and touched with an expression of gen¬ 
tle melancholy. The features were 
markedly Oriental in cast, but neither 
coarse nor sensual. In vivid contrast to 


302 


WEIRD TALES 


the hair and eyes was the pointed beard 
upon the chin; for it was black as coal, 
yet by some quaint combination of the 
artist’s pigments it seemed to hide blue 
lights within its sable depths. Looking 
from the blue-black beard to the sad blue 
eyes it seemed to me I saw a hint, the 
merest faint suggestion, of wolfish cruelty 
in the face. 

"It is undoubtlessly he," de Grandin 
murmured as he gazed upon the portrait. 
"He fits poor Madame Sarah’s descrip¬ 
tion to a nicety. But where is he in per¬ 
son? We can not fight his picture; no, 
of course not.” 

Motioning us to wait, he snapped the 
light off and drew a pocket flashlight 
from his waistcoat. He tiptoed through 
the door, exploring the farther room by 
the beam of his searchlight, then re¬ 
joined us with a gesture of negation. 

"He is not here,” he announced softly; 
"but come with me, my friends, I would 
show you something.” 

He led the way to the adjoining cham¬ 
ber, which, in any other dwelling, would 
have been the bedroom. It was bare, ut¬ 
terly unfurnished, and as he flashed his 
light around the walls we saw, some three 
or four feet from the floor, a row of 
paw-prints, as though a beast had stood 
upon its hind legs and pressed its fore¬ 
feet to the walls. And the prints were 
marked in reddish smears—blood. 

"You see?” he asked, as though the an¬ 
swer to his question were apparent. "He 
has no bed; he needs none, for at night 
he is a wolf, and sleeps denned down 
upon the floor. Also, you observe, he has 
not lacked for provender —le bon Dieu 
grant it was the blood of animals that 
stained his claws!” 

"But where is he?” asked Maxwell, 
fingering his pistol. 

"S-s-sh!" warned the Frenchman. "I 


do not think that he is far away. The 
window, you observe her?” 

"Well?” 

"Precisement. She is a scant four feet 
from the ground, and overlooks the alley. 
Also, though she was once fitted with 
bars, they have been removed. Also, 
again, the sash is ready-raised. Is it not 
all perfect?” 

"Perfect? For what?” 

"For him, parbleu! For the werewolf’s 
entrances and exits. He comes tunning 
down the alley, leaps agilely through the 
open window, and voila, he is here. Or 
leaps out into the alleyway with a single 
bound, and goes upon his nightly hunts. 
He may return at any moment; it is well 
that we await him here.” 

T he waiting minutes stretched inter¬ 
minably. The dark room where we 
crouched was lighted from time to time, 
then cast again into shadow, as the 
racing clouds obscured or unveiled the 
full moon’s visage. At length, when I 
felt I could no longer stand the strain, a 
low, harsh growl from our four-footed 
companion brought us sharply to atten¬ 
tion. In another moment we heard the 
soft patter-patter, scratch-scratch of a 
long-clawed beast running lightly on the 
pavement of the alleyway outside, and 
in a second more a dark form bulked 
against the window's opening and some¬ 
thing landed upon the floor. 

For a moment there was breathless si¬ 
lence; then: "Bon soir, Monsieur Loup- 
garou,” de Grandin greeted in a pleasant 
voice. "You have unexpected visitors. 

"Do not move,” he added threatening¬ 
ly as a hardly audible growl sounded 
from the farther comer of the room and 
we heard the scraping of long nails upon 
the floor as the wolf-thing gathered for a 
spring; "there are three of us, and each 


THE THING IN THE FOG 


303 


one is armed. Your reign of terror draws 
to a dose, Monsieur.” 

A narrow, dazzling shaft of light shot 
from his pocket torch, dove through the 
gloom and picked the crouching wor¬ 
thing’s form out of the darkness. Fangs 
bared, black lips drawn back in bestial 
fury, the gaunt, gray thing was backed 
into the corner, and from its open jaws 
we saw a thin trickle of slabber mixed 
with blood. It had been feeding, so much 
was obvious. "But what had been its- 
food?” I wondered with a shudder. 

"It is your shot, Friend Jean,” the lit¬ 
tle Frenchman spoke. "Take careful aim, 
and do not jerk the pistol when you fire.” 
He held his flashlight steadily upon the 
beast, and a second later came the roar 
of Maxwell’s pistol. 

The acrid smoke stung in our nostrils, 
the reverberation of the detonation al¬ 
most deafened us, and—a little fleck of 
plaster fell down from the wall where 
Maxwell’s bullet was harmlessly em¬ 
bedded. 

"Ten thousand stinking camels!” Jules 
de Grandin cried, but got no further, for 
with a maddened, murderous growl the 
wolf-man sprang, his lithe body describ¬ 
ing a graceful arc as it hurtled through 
the air, his cruel, white fangs flashing 
terribly as he leaped upon John Maxwell 
and bore him to the floor before he could 
fire a second shot. 

"Nom de Dieu de nom de Dieu de 
nom de Dieu!” de Grandin swore, play¬ 
ing his flashlight upon the struggling man 
and brute and leaping forward, seeking 
for a chance to use his pistol. 

But to shoot the wolf would have 
meant that he must shoot the man, as 
well; for the furry body lay upon the 
struggling Maxwell, and as they thrashed 
and wrestled on the floor it was impos¬ 
sible to tell, at times, in the uncertain 


light, which one was tnan and which was 
beast. 

Then came a deep, low growl of pent- 
up, savage fury, almost an articulate curse, 
it seemed to me, and like a streak of sil¬ 
ver-plated vengeance the little she-wolf 
leaped upon the gray-brown brute which 
growled and worried at the young man’s 
throat. 

We saw the white teeth bared, we saw 
them flesh themselves in the wolf-thing’s 
shoulder, we saw her loose her hold, and 
leap back, avoiding the great wolfs 
counter-stroke, then close with it again, 
sinking needle-fangs in the furry ruff 
about its throat. 

The great wolf shook her to and fro, 
battered her against the walls and floor 
as a vicious terrier mistreats a luckless 
rat, but she held on savagely, though we 
saw her left forepaw go limp and knew 
the bone was broken. 

De Grandin watched his chance, crept 
closer, closer, till he almost straddled the 
contending beasts; then, darting forth his 
hand he put his pistol to the tawny-gray 
wolf’s ear, squeezed the trigger and leaped 
back. 

A wild, despairing wail went up, the 
great, gray form seemed suddenly to stif¬ 
fen, to grow longer, heavier, to shed its 
fur and thicken in limbs and body-struc¬ 
ture. In a moment, as we watched the 
horrid transformation, we beheld a hu¬ 
man form stretched out upon the floor; 
the body of a handsome man with fair 
hair and blade beard, at the throat of 
which a slender silver-gray she-wolf was 
worrying. 

"It is over, finished, little brave one,” 
de Grandin announced, reaching out a 
hand to stroke the little wolf’s pale fur. 
"Right nobly have you borne yourself 
this night; but we have much to do be¬ 
fore our work is finished.” 

The she-wolf backed away, but the 


304 


WEIRD TALES 


hair upon her shoulders was still bristling, 
and her topaz eyes were jewel-bright with 
the light of combat. Once or twice, de¬ 
spite de Grandin’s hand upon her neck, 
she gave vent to throaty growls and 
started toward the still form which lay 
upon the floor in a pool of moonlight, 
another pool fast gathering beneath its 
head where de Grandin’s bullet had 
crashed through its skull and brain. 

John Maxwell moved and moaned a 
tortured moan, and instantly the little 
wolf was by his side, licking his cheeks 
with her pink tongue, emitting little 
pleading whines, almost like the whim¬ 
pers of a child in pain. 

When Maxwell regained consciousness 
it was pathetic to see the joy the wolf 
showed as he sat up and feebly put a 
groping hand against his throat. 

"Not dead, my friend, you are not 
nearly dead, thanks to the bravery of your 
noble lady,” de Grandin told him with a 
laugh. Then, to me: 

"Do you go home with them, Friend 
Trowbridge. I must remain to dispose 
of this”—he prodded the inert form with 
his foot—"and will be with you shortly. 

"Be of good cheer, ma pauvre,” he 
told the she-wolf, "you shall be soon re¬ 
leased from the spell, which binds you; I 
swear it; though never need you be 
ashamed of what you did this night, what¬ 
ever form you might have had while do¬ 
ing it.” 

J OHN MAXWELL sat upon the divan, 
head in hands, the wolf crouched at 
his feet, her broken paw dangling piti¬ 
fully, her topaz eyes intent upon his face. 
I paced restlessly before the fire. De 
Grandin had declared he knew how to 
release her from the spell—but what if 
he should fail? I shuddered at the 
thought. What booted it that we had 


killed the man-wolf if Sarah must be 
bound in wolfish form henceforth? 

"Tiens, my friends,” de Grandin an¬ 
nounced himself at the library door, "he 
took a lot of disposing of, that one. First 
I had to clean the blood from off his 
bedroom floor, then I must lug his filthy 
carcass out into the alley and dispose of 
it as though it had been flung there from 
a racing motor. Tomorrow I doubt not 
the papers will make much of the myste¬ 
rious murder. 'A gangster put upon the 
spot by other gangsters,’ they will say. 
And shall we point out their mistake? I 
damn think no.” 

He paused with a self-satisfied chuckle; 
then: "Friend Jean, will you be good 
enough to go and fetch a negligee for 
Madame Sarah?” he asked. "Hurry, mon 
vieux, she will have need of it anon.” 

As the young man left us: "Quick, my 
friends,” he ordered. "You, Madame 
Sarah, lie upon the floor before the fire, 
thus. Bien. 

"Friend Trowbridge, prepare bandages 
and splints for her poor arm. We can 
not set it now, but later we must do so. 
Certainly. 

"Now, my little brave one,” he ad¬ 
dressed the wolf again, "this will hurt 
you sorely, but only for a moment.” 

Drawing a small flask from his pocket 
he pulled the cork and poured its con¬ 
tents over her. 

"It’s holy water,” he explained as she 
whined and shivered as the liquid soaked 
into her fur. "I had to stop to steal it 
from a church.” 

A knife gleamed in the firelight, and 
he drove the gleaming blade into her 
head, drew it forth and shook it toward 
the fire, so that a drop of blood fell hiss¬ 
ing in the leaping flames. Twice more 
he cut her with the knife, and twice more 
dropped her blood into the fire; then, 
holding the knife lightly by the handle, 


THE THING IN THE FOG 


305 


he struck her with the flat of the blade 
between the ears three times in quick suc¬ 
cession, crying as he did so: "Sarah Max¬ 
well, I command that you once more as¬ 
sume your native form in the name of the 
Most Holy Trinity!” 

A shudder passed through the wolf’s 
frame. From nose to tail-tip she trem¬ 
bled, as though she lay in her death- 
agony; then suddenly her outlines seemed 
to blur. Pale fur gave way to paler flesh, 
her dainty lupine paws became dainty hu¬ 
man hands and feet, her body was no 
more that of a wolf, but of a soft, sweet 
woman. 

But life seemed to have gone from her. 
She lay flaccid on the hearth rug, her 
mouth a little open, eyes dosed, no move¬ 
ment of her breast perceptible. I looked 
at her with growing consternation, but: 

"Quickly, my friends, the splints, the 
bandages!" de Grandin ordered. 

I set the broken arm as quickly as I 
could, and as I finished young John Max¬ 
well rushed into the room, 

"Sallie, beloved!” he fell beside his 
wife’s unconsdous form, tears streaming 
down his face, 

"Is she—is she—•—” he began, but 
could not force himself to finish, as he 
looked imploringly at Jules de Grandin. 

"Dead?” the little man supplied. "By 
no means; not at all, my friend. She is 


alive and healthy. A broken arm mends 
quickly, and she has youth and stamina. 
Put on her robe and bear her up to bed. 
She will do excellently when she has had 
some sleep. 

"But first observe this, if you please,” 
he added, pointing to her side. Where 
the cicatrix with its tuft of wolf-hair had 
marred her skin, there was now only 
smooth, unspotted flesh. "The curse is 
wholly lifted,” he declared delightedly. 
"You need no more regard it, except as 
an unpleasant memory.” 

"John dear,” we heard the young wife 
murmur as her husband bore her from 
the room, "I’ve had such a terrible dream. 
I dreamed that I’d been turned into a 
wolf, and-” 

"Come quickly, good Friend Trow¬ 
bridge,” de Grandin plucked me by the 
arm, "I, too, would dream.” 

"Dream? Of what?” I asked him. 

"Perchance of youth and love and 
springtime, and the joys that might have 
been,” he answered, something like a 
tremble in his voice. "And then, again, 
perchance of snakes and toads and ele¬ 
phants, all of most unauthentic color— 
such things as one may see when he has 
drunk himself into the blissful state of 
delirium tremens. I do not surely know 
that I can drink that much, but may the 
Devil bake me if I do not try!” 



W. T.—3 




A strange, blood-freezing story 
of an idol that wept on its throne, 
and a valiant barbarian from the 
fringes of an elder civilization 


"Conan set his teeth 
and drove the 
sword deep." 


Vhe 

^/ower of 

the Elephant 

By ROBERT E. HOWARD 


T ORCHES flared murkily oh the 
revels in the Maul, where the 
thieves of the east held carnival by 
night. In the Maul they could carouse and 
roar as they liked, for honest people 
shunned the quarters, and watchmen, well 
paid with stained coins, did not interfere 
with their sport. Along the crooked, un¬ 
paved streets with their heaps of refuse 
and sloppy puddles, drunken roisterers 
506 


staggered, roaring. Steel glinted in the 
shadows where wolf preyed on wolf, and 
from the darkness rose the shrill laughter 
of women, and the sounds of scufflings 
and strugglings. Torchlight licked luridly 
from broken windows and wide-thrown 
doors, and out of those doors, stale 
smells of wine and rank sweaty bodies, 
clamor of drinking-jacks and fists ham¬ 
mered on rough tables, snatches of ob- 



THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT 


307. 


scene songs, rushed like a blow in the face. 

In one of these dens merriment thun¬ 
dered to the low smoke-stained roof, 
where rascals gathered in every stage of 
rags and tatters—furtive cut-purses, leer¬ 
ing kidnappers, quick-fingered thieves, 
swaggering bravoes with their wenches, 
strident-voiced women clad in tawdry 
finery. Native rogues were the dominant 
element — dark-skinned, dark-eyed Za- 
morians, with daggers at their girdles and 
guile in their hearts. But there were 
wolves of half a dozen outland nations 
there as well. There was a giant Hyper¬ 
borean renegade, taciturn, dangerous, 
with a broadsword strapped to his great 
gaunt frame—for men wore steel openly 
in the Maul. There was a Shemitish 
counterfeiter, with his hook nose and 
curled blue-black beard. There was a 
bold-eyed Brythunian wencli, sitting on 
the knee of a tawny-haired Gunderman-— 
a wandering mercenary soldier, a desert¬ 
er from some defeated army. And the fat 
gross rogue whose bawdy jests were caus¬ 
ing all the shouts of mirth was a profes¬ 
sional kidnapper come up from distant 
Koth to teach woman-stealing to Za- 
morians who were born with more knowl¬ 
edge of the art than he could ever at¬ 
tain. 

This man halted in his description of 
an intended victim’s charms, and thrust 
his muzzle into a huge tankard of froth¬ 
ing ale. Then blowing the foam from 
his fat lips, he said, "By Bel, god of all 
thieves, I’ll show them how to steal 
wenches: I'll have her over the Zamorian 
border before dawn, and there’ll be a 
caravan waiting to receive her. Three 
hundred pieces of silver, a count of Ophir 
promised me for a sleek young Brythu¬ 
nian of the better class. It took me weeks, 
wandering among the border cities as a 
beggar, to find one I knew would suit. 
And is she a pretty baggage!’’ 


He blew a slobbery kiss in the air. 

"I know lords in Shem who would 
trade the secret of the Elephant Tower for 
her,” he said, returning to his ale. 

A touch on his tunic sleeve made him 
L turn his head, scowling at the inter¬ 
ruption. He saw a tall, strongly made 
youth standing beside him. This person 
was as much out of place in that den as a 
gray wolf among mangy rats of the gut¬ 
ters. His cheap tunic could not conceal 
the hard, rangy lines of his powerful 
frame, the broad heavy shoulders, the 
massive chest, lean waist, and heavy arms. 
His skin was brown from outland suns, 
his eyes blue and smoldering; a shock of 
tousled black hair crowned his broad fore¬ 
head. From his girdle hung a sword in a 
worn leather scabbard. 

The Kothian involuntarily drew back; 
for the man was not one of any civilized 
race he knew. 

"You spoke of the Elephant Tower,” 
said the stranger, speaking Zamorian with 
an alien accent. "I’ve heard much of this 
tower; what is its secret?” 

The fellow’s attitude did not seem 
threatening, and the Kothian’s courage 
was bolstered up by the ale, and the evi¬ 
dent approval of his audience. He swelled 
with self-importance. 

"The secret of the Elephant Tower?” 
he exclaimed. "Why, any fool knows 
that Yara the priest dwells there with the 
great jewel men call the Elephant’s Heart, 
that is the secret of his magic." 

The barbarian digested this for a space. 
"I have seen this tower,” he said. "It 
is set in a great garden above the level of 
the city, surrounded by high walls. I 
have seen no guards. The walls would be 
easy to climb. Why has not somebody 
stolen this secret gem?” 

The Kothian stared wide-mouthed at 
the other’s simplicity, then burst into a 


308 


WEIRD TALES 


roar of derisive mirth, in which the others 
joined. 

"Harken to this heathen!” he bellowed. 
"He would steal the jewel of Yara!— 
Harken, fellow,” he said, turning porten¬ 
tously to the other, "I suppose you are 
some sort of a northern barbarian-” 

"I am a Cimmerian,” the outlander an¬ 
swered, in no friendly tone. The reply 
and the manner of it meant little to the 
Kothian; of a kingdom that lay far to the 
south, on the borders of Shem, he knew 
only vaguely of the northern races. 

"Then give ear and learn wisdom, fel¬ 
low,” said he, pointing his drinking-jack 
at the discomfited youth. "Know that in 
Zamora, and more especially in this city, 
there are more bold thieves than anywhere 
else in the world, even Koth. If mortal 
man could have stolen the gem, be sure 
it would have been filched long ago. You 
speak of climbing the walls, but once hav¬ 
ing climbed, you would quickly wish 
yourself back again. There are no guards 
in the gardens at night for a very good 
reason—that is, no human guards. But in 
the watch-chamber, in the lower part of 
the tower, are armed men, and even if you 
passed those who roam the gardens by 
night, you must still pass through the sol¬ 
diers, for the gem is kept somewhere in 
the tower above.” 

"But if a man could pass through the 
gardens,” argued the Cimmerian, "why 
could he not come at the gem through the 
upper part of the tower and thus avoid 
the soldiers?” 

Again the Kothian gaped at him. 

"Listen to him!” he shouted jeeringly. 
"The barbarian is an eagle who would fly 
to the jeweled rim of the tower, which is 
only a hundred and fifty feet above the 
earth, with rounded sides slicker than pol¬ 
ished glass!” 

The Cimmerian glared about, embar¬ 
rassed at the roar of mocking laughter 


that greeted this remark. He saw no par¬ 
ticular humor in. it, and was too new to 
civilization to understand its discourtesies. 
Civilized men are more discourteous than 
savages because they know they can be im¬ 
polite without having their skulls split, as 
a general thing. He was bewildered and 
chagrined, and doubtless would have 
slunk away, abashed, but the Kothian 
chose to goad him further. 

"Come, come!” he shouted. "Tell these 
poor fellows, who have only been thieves 
since before you were spawned, tell them 
how you would steal the gem!” 

"There is always a way, if the desire be 
coupled with courage,” answered the 
Cimmerian shortly, nettled. 

The Kothian chose to take this as a 
personal slur. His face grew purple with 
anger. 

"What!” he roared. "You dare tell us 
our business, and intimate that we are 
cowards? Get along; get out of my 
sight!” And he pushed the Cimmerian 
violently. 

"Will you mock me and then lay hands 
on me?” grated the barbarian, his quick 
rage leaping up; and he returned the 
push with an open-handed blow that 
knocked his tormenter back against the 
rude-hewn table. Ale splashed over the 
jack’s lip, and the Kothian roared in fury, 
dragging at his sword. 

"Heathen dog!” he bellowed. "I’ll 
have your heart for that!” 

Steel flashed and the throng surged 
wildly back out of the way. In their 
flight they knocked over the single candle 
and the den was plunged in darkness, 
broken by the crash of upset benches, 
drum of flying feet, shouts, oaths of peo¬ 
ple tumbling over one another, and a sin¬ 
gle strident yell of agony that cut the din 
like a knife. When a candle was relighted, 
most of the guests had gone out by doors 
and broken windows, and the rest hud- 


THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT 


309 


died behind stacks of wine-kegs and under 
tables. The barbarian was gone; the cen¬ 
ter of the room was deserted except for 
the gashed body of the Kothian. The 
Cimmerian, with the unerring instinct of 
the barbarian, had killed his man in the 
darkness and confusion. 

2 

T he lurid lights and drunken revelry 
fell away behind the Cimmerian. He 
had discarded his tom tunic, and walked 
through the night naked except for a loin¬ 
cloth and his high-strapped sandals. He 
moved with the supple ease of a great 
tiger, his steely muscles rippling under his 
brown skin. 

He had entered the part of the city re¬ 
served for the temples. On all sides of 
him they glittered white in the starlight— 
snowy marble pillars and golden domes 
and silver arches, shrines of Zamora’s 
myriad strange gods. He did not trouble 
his head about them; he knew that Za¬ 
mora’s religion, like all things of a civ¬ 
ilized, long-settled people, was intricate 
and complex, and had lost most of the 
pristine essence in a maze of formulas 
and rituals. He had squatted for hours in 
the courtyards of the philosophers, listen¬ 
ing to the arguments of theologians and 
teachers, and come away in a haze of 
bewilderment, sure of only one thing, and 
that, that they were all touched in the 
head. 

His gods were simple and understand¬ 
able; Crom was their chief, and he lived 
on a great mountain, whence he sent 
forth dooms and death. It was useless to 
call on Crom, because he was a gloomy, 
savage god, and he hated weaklings. But 
he gave a man courage at birth, and the 
will and might to kill his enemies, which, 
in the Cimmerian’s mind, was all any god 
should be expected to do. 


His sandalled feet made no sound on 
the gleaming pave. No watchmen passed, 
for even the thieves of the Maul shunned 
the temples, where strange dooms had 
been known to fall on violators. Ahead 
of him he saw, looming against the sky, 
the Tower of the Elephant. He mused, 
wondering why it was so named. No one 
seemed to know. He had never seen an 
elephant, but he vaguely understood that 
it was a monstrous animal, with a tail in 
front as well as behind. This a wandering 
Shemite had told him, swearing that he 
had seen such beasts by the thousands in 
the country of the Hyrkanians; but all 
men knew what liars were the men of 
Shem. At any rate, there were no el¬ 
ephants in Zamora. 

The shimmering shaft of the tower rose 
frostily in the stars. In the sunlight it 
shone so dazzlingly that few could bear its 
glare, and men said it was built of silver. 
It was round, a slim perfect cylinder, a 
hundred and fifty feet in height, and its 
rim glittered in the starlight with the 
great jewels which crusted it. The tower 
stood among the waving exotic trees of a 
garden raised high above the general level 
of the city. A high wall enclosed this gar¬ 
den, and outside the wall was a lower level, 
likewise enclosed by a wall. No lights 
shone forth; there seemed to be no win¬ 
dows in the tower—at least not above 
the level of the inner wall. Only the gems 
high above sparkled frostily in the star¬ 
light. 

Shrubbery grew thick outside the lower, 
or outer wall. The Cimmerian crept close 
and stood beside the barrier, measuring 
it with his eye. It was high, but he could 
leap and catch the coping with his fin¬ 
gers. Then it would be child’s play to 
swing himself up and over, and he did not 
doubt that he could pass the inner wall in 
the same manner. But be hesitated at the 
thought of the strange perils which were 


310 


WEIRD TALES 


said to await within. These people were 
strange and mysterious to him; they were 
not of his kind—not even of the same 
blood as the more westerly Brythunians, 
Nemedians, Kothians and Aquilonians, 
whose civiliied mysteries had awed him in 
times past. The people of Zamora were 
very ancient, and, from what he had seen 
of them, very evil. 

He thought of Yara, the high priest, 
who worked strange dooms from this 
jeweled tower, and the Cimmerian's hair 
prickled as he remembered a tale told by 
a drunken page of the court—how Yara 
had laughed in the face of a hostile 
prince, and held up a glowing, evil gem 
before him, and how rays shot blindingly 
from that unholy jewel, to envelop die 
prince, who screamed and fell down, and 
shrank to a withered blackened lump that 
changed to a black spider which scam¬ 
pered wildly about the chamber until 
Yara set his heel upon it. 

Yara came not often from his tower of 
magic, and always to work evil on some 
man or some nation. The king of Za¬ 
mora feared him more than he feared 
death, and kept himself drunk all the 
time because that fear was more than he 
could endure sober. Yara was very old 
—centuries old, men said, and added that 
he would live for ever because of the 
magic of his gem, which men called the 
Heart of the Elephant, for no better rea¬ 
son than they named his hold the El¬ 
ephant’s Tower. 

The Cimmerian, engrossed in these 
thoughts, shrank quickly against the wall. 
Within the garden some one was pass¬ 
ing, who walked with a measured stride. 
The listener heard the clink of steel. So 
after all a guard did pace those gardens. 
The Cimmerian waited, expected to 
hear him pass again, on the next round, 
but silence rested over the mysterious gar¬ 
dens. 


At last curiosity overcame him. Leap¬ 
ing lightly he grasped the wall and swung 
himself up to the top with one arm. Lying 
flat on the broad coping, he looked down 
into the wide space between the walls. 
No shrubbery grew near him, though 
he saw some carefully trimmed bushes 
near the inner wall. The starlight fell on 
the even sward and somewhere a foun¬ 
tain tinkled. 

The Cimmerian cautiously lowered 
himself down on the inside and drew his 
sword, staring about him. He was shaken 
by the nervousness of the wild at stand¬ 
ing thus unprotected in the naked star¬ 
light, and he moved lightly around the 
curve of the wall, hugging its shadow, 
until he was even with the shrubbery he 
had noticed. Then he ran quickly toward 
it, crouching low, and almost tripped over 
a form that lay crumpled near the edges 
of the bushes, 

A quick look to right and left showed 
him no enemy in sight at least, and he 
bent close to investigate. His keen eyes, 
even in the dim starlight, showed him a 
strongly built man in the silvered armor 
and crested helmet of the Zamorian royal 
guard. A shield and a spear lay near him, 
and it took but an instant’s examination to 
show that he had been strangled. The 
barbarian glanced about uneasily. He 
knew that this man must be the guard he 
had heard pass his hiding-place by the 
wall. Only a short time had passed, yet 
in that interval nameless hands had 
reached out of the dark and choked out 
the soldier’s life. 

S training his eyes in the gloom, he 
saw a hint of motion through the 
shrubs near the wall. Thither he glided, 
gripping his sword. He made no more 
noise than a panther stealing through the 
night, yet the man he was stalking heard. 
The Cimmerian had a dim glimpse of a 


THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT 


311 


huge bulk dose to the wall, felt relief 
that it was at least human; then the fel¬ 
low wheeled quickly with a gasp that 
sounded like panic, made the first motion 
of a forward plunge, hands clutching, 
then recoiled as the Cimmerian’s blade 
caught the starlight. For a tense instant 
neither spoke, standing ready for any¬ 
thing. 

"You are no soldier,” hissed the 
stranger at last. "You are a thief like 
myself.” 

' And who are you?” asked the Cim¬ 
merian in a suspicious whisper. 

"Taurus of Nemedia.” 

The Cimmerian lowered his sword. 

"I’ve heard of you. Men call you a 
prince of thieves.” 

A low laugh answered him. Taurus 
was tall as the Cimmerian, and heavier; 
he was big-bellied and fat, but his every 
movement betokened a subtle dynamic 
magnetism, which was reflected in the 
keen eyes that glinted vitally, even in the 
starlight. He was barefooted and carried 
a coil of what looked like a thin, strong 
rope, knotted at regular intervals. 

"Who are you?” he whispered. 

"Conan, a Cimmerian,” answered the 
other. "I came seeking a way to steal 
Yara’s jewel, that men call the Elephant’s 
Heart.” 

Conan sensed the man’s great belly 
shaking in laughter, but it was not de¬ 
risive. 

"By Bel, god of thieves!” hissed Tau¬ 
rus. "I had thought only myself had 
courage to attempt that poaching. These 
Zamorians call themselves thieves—bah! 
Conan, I like your grit. I never shared 
an adventure with any one, but by Bel, 
we’ll attempt this together if you’re 
willing.” 

"Then you are after the gem, too?” 

"What else? I’ve had my plans laid 


for months, but you, I think, have acted 
on a sudden impulse, my friend.” 

"You killed the soldier?” 

"Of course. I slid over the wall when 
he was on the other side of the garden. 
I hid in the bushes; he heard me, or 
thought he heard something. When he 
came blundering over, it was no trick at 
all to get behind him and suddenly grip 
his neck and choke out his fool’s life. 
He was like most men, half blind in the 
dark. A good thief should have eyes like 
a cat.” 

"You made one mistake,” said Conan. 

Taurus’ eyes flashed angrily. 

"I? I, a mistake? Impossible!” 

"You should have dragged the body 
into the bushes.” 

"Said the novice to the master of the 
art. They will not change the guard until 
past midnight. Should any come search¬ 
ing for him now, and find his body, they 
would flee at once to Yara, bellowing the 
news, and give us time to escape. Were 
they not to find it, they’d go beating up 
the bushes and catch us like rats in a trap.” 

"You are right,” agreed Conan. 

"So. Now attend. We waste time in 
this cursed discussion. There are no 
guards in the inner garden—human 
guards, I mean, though there are sentinels 
even more deadly. It was their presence 
which baffled me for so long, but I final¬ 
ly discovered a way to circumvent them.” 

"What of the soldiers in the lower 
part of the tower?” 

"Old Yara dwells in the chambers 
above. By that route we will come—and 
go, I hope. Never mind asking me how. 
I have arranged a v/ay. We’ll steal down 
through the top of the tower and stran¬ 
gle old Yara before he can cast any of 
his accursed spells on us. At least we’ll 
try; it’s the chance of being turned into 
a spider or a toad, against the wealth and 


312 


WEIRD TALES 


power of the world. All good thieves 
must know how to take risks.” 

"I’ll go as far as any man,” said Conan, 
slipping off his sandals. 

"Then follow me.” And turning, 
Taurus leaped up, caught the wall and 
drew himself up. The man’s suppleness 
was amazing, considering his bulk; he 
seemed almost to glide up over the edge 
of the coping. Conan followed him, and 
lying flat on the broad top, they spoke in 
wary whispers. 

"I see no light,” Conan muttered. The 
lower part of the tower seemed much 
like that portion visible from outside the 
garden—a perfect, gleaming cylinder, 
with no apparent openings. 

"There are cleverly constructed doors 
and windows,” answered Taurus, "but 
they are closed. The soldiers breathe air 
that comes from above.” 

The garden was a vague pool of shad¬ 
ows, where feathery bushes and low 
spreading trees waved darkly in the star¬ 
light. Conan’s wary soul felt the aura of 
waiting menace that brooded over it. He 
felt the burning glare of unseen eyes, 
and he caught a subtle scent that made 
the short hairs on his neck instinctively 
bristle as a hunting dog bristles at the 
scent of an ancient enemy. 

"Follow me,” whispered Taurus, "keep 
behind me, as you value your life.” 

T aking what looked like a copper tube 
from his girdle, the Nemedian 
dropped lightly to the sward inside the 
wall. Conan was close behind him, 
sword ready, but Taurus pushed him 
back, close to the wall, and showed no 
inclination to advance, himself. His 
whole attitude was of tense expectancy, 
and his gaze, like Conan’s, was fixed on 
the shadowy mass of shrubbery a few 
yards away. This shrubbery was shaken, 
although the breeze had died down. Then 


two great eyes blazed from the waving 
shadows, and behind them other sparks 
of fire glinted in the darkness. 

"Lions!” muttered Conan. 

"Aye. By day they are kept in subter¬ 
ranean caverns below the tower. That’s 
why there are no guards in this garden.” 

Conan counted the eyes rapidly. 

"Five in sight; maybe more back in 
the bushes. They’ll charge in a mo¬ 
ment-” 

"Be silent!” hissed Taurus, and he 
moved out from the wall, cautiously as if 
treading on razors, lifting the slender 
tube. Low rumblings rose from the 
shadows and the blazing eyes moved for¬ 
ward. Conan could sense the great slav¬ 
ering jaws, the tufted tails lashing tawny 
sides. The air grew tense—the Cimmerian 
gripped his sword, expecting the charge 
and the irresistible hurtling of giant 
bodies. Then Taurus brought the mouth 
of the tube to his lips and blew power¬ 
fully. A long jet of yellowish powder 
shot from the other end of the tube and 
billowed out instantly in a thick green- 
yellow cloud that settled over the shrub¬ 
bery, blotting out the glaring eyes. 

Taurus ran back hastily to the wall. 
Conan glared without understanding. 
The thick cloud hid the shrubbery, and 
from it no sound came. 

"What is that mist?” the Cimmerian 
asked uneasily. 

"Death!” hissed the Nemedian. "If a 
wind springs up and blows it back upon 
us, we must flee over the wall. But no, 
the wind is still, and now it is dissipating. 
Wait until it vanishes entirely. To breathe 
it is death.” 

Presently only yellowish shreds hung 
ghostlily in the air; then they were gone, 
and Taurus motioned his companion for¬ 
ward. They stole toward the bushes, and 
Conan gasped. Stretched out in the shad¬ 
ows lay five great tawny shapes, the fire 


THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT 


313 


of their grim eyes dimmed for ever. A 
sweetish cloying scent lingered in the at¬ 
mosphere. 

"They died without a sound!” mut¬ 
tered the Cimmerian. "Taurus, what was 
that powder?” 

"It was made from the black lotus, 
whose blossoms wave in the lost jungles 
of Khitai, where only the yellow-skulled 
priests of Yun dwell. Those blossoms 
strike dead any who smell of them.” 

Conan knelt beside the great forms, 
assuring himself that they were indeed 
beyond power of harm. He shook his 
head; the magic of the exotic lands was 
mysterious and terrible to the barbarians 
of the north. 

"Why can you not sky the soldiers in 
the tower in the same way?” he asked. 

"Because that was all the powder I 
possessed. The obtaining of it was a feat 
which In itself was enough to make me 
famous among the thieves of the world. 
I stole it out of a caravan bound for 
Stygia, and I lifted it, in its cloth-of-gold 
bag, out of the coils of the great serpent 
which guarded it, without awaking him. 
But come, in Bel’s name! Are we to waste 
the night in discussion?” 

They glided through the shrubbery to 
the gleaming foot of the tower, and 
there, with a motion enjoining silence, 
Taurus unwound his knotted cord, on one 
end of which was a strong steel hook. 
Conan saw his plan, and asked no ques¬ 
tions as the Nemedian gripped the line 
a short distance below the hook, and be¬ 
gan to swing it about his head. Conan 
laid his ear to the smooth wall and lis¬ 
tened, but could hear nothing. Evidently 
the soldiers within did not suspect the 
presence of intruders, who had made no 
more sound than the night wind blowing 
through the trees. But a strange nervous¬ 
ness was on the barbarian; perhaps it 
was the lion-smell which was over every¬ 
thing. 


T aurus threw the line with a smooth, 
ripping motion of his mighty arm. 
The hook curved upward and inward in 
a peculiar manner, hard to describe, and 
vanished over the jeweled rim. It ap¬ 
parently caught firmly, for cautious jerk¬ 
ing and then hard pulling did not result 
in any slipping or giving. 

"Luck the first cast,” murmured Tau¬ 
rus. "I-” 

It was Conan’s savage instinct whidi 
made him wheel suddenly; for the death 
that was upon them made no sound. A 
fleeting glimpse showed the Cimmerian 
the giant tawny shape, rearing upright 
against the stars, towering over him for 
the death-stroke. No civilized man could 
have moved half so quickly as the bar¬ 
barian moved. His sword flashed frostily 
in the starlight with every ounce of des¬ 
perate nerve and thew behind it, and man 
and beast went down together. 

Cursing incoherently beneath his 
breath, Taurus bent above the mass, and 
saw his companion’s limbs move as he 
strove to drag himself from under the 
great weight that lay limply upon him. 
A glance showed the startled Nemedian 
that tire lion was dead, its slanting skull 
split in half. He laid hold of the car¬ 
cass, and by his aid, Conan thrust it aside 
and clambered up, still gripping his drip¬ 
ping sword. 

"Are you hurt, man?” gasped Taurus, 
still bewildered by the stunning swift¬ 
ness of that touch-and-go episode. 

"No, by Crom!” answered the barba¬ 
rian. "But that was as close a call as I’ve 
had in a life noways tame. Why did not 
the cursed beast roar as he charged?” 

"All things are strange in this gar¬ 
den,” said Taurus. "The lions strike si¬ 
lently—and so do other deaths. But. 
come—little sound was made in that 
slaying, but the soldiers might have 
heard, if they are not asleep or drunk. 
That beast was in some other part of the 


314 


WEIRD TALES 


garden and escaped the death of the 
flowers, but surely there are no more. 
We must climb this cord—little need to 
ask a Cimmerian if he can.” 

"If it will bear my weight,” grunted 
Conan, cleansing his sword on the grass. 

"It will bear thrice my own,” answered 
Taurus. "It was woven from the tresses 
of dead women, which I took from their 
tombs at midnight, and steeped in the 
deadly wine of the upas tree, to give it 
strength. I will go first—then follow 
me closely.” 

The Nemedian gripped the rope and 
crooking a knee about it, began the as¬ 
cent; he went up like a cat, belying the 
apparent clumsiness of his bulk. The 
Cimmerian followed. The cord swayed 
and turned on itself, but the climbers 
were not hindered; both had made more 
difficult climbs before. The jeweled rim 
glittered high above them, jutting out 
from the perpendicular of the wall, so 
that the cord hung perhaps a foot from 
the side of the tower—a fact which added 
greatly to the ease of the ascent. 

Up and up they went, silently, the 
lights of the city spreading out further 
and further to their sight as they climbed, 
the stars above them more and more 
dimmed by the glitter of the jewels 
along the rim. Now Taurus reached up 
a hand and gripped the rim itself, pull¬ 
ing himself up and over. Conan paused 
a moment on the very edge, fascinated 
by the great frosty jewels whose gleams 
dazzled his eyes—diamonds, rubies, em¬ 
eralds, sapphires, turquoises, moonstones, 
set thick as stars in the shimmering sil¬ 
ver. At a distance their different gleams 
had seemed to merge into a pulsing 
white glare; but now, at close range, 
they shimmered with a million rainbow 
tints and lights, hypnotizing him with 
their scintillations. 

"There is a fabulous fortune here, 


Taurus,” he whispered; but the Nemedian 
answered impatiently, "Come on! If we 
secure the Heart, these and all other 
things shall be ours.” 

Conan climbed over the sparkling 
rim. The level of the tower’s top was 
some feet below the gemmed ledge. It 
was flat, composed of some dark blue 
substance, set with gold that caught the 
starlight, so that the whole looked like 
a wide sapphire flecked with shining gold- 
dust. Across from the point where they 
had entered there seemed to be a sort of 
chamber, built upon the roof. It was of 
the same silvery material as the walls of 
the tower, adorned with designs worked 
in smaller gems; its single door was of 
gold, its surface cut in scales, and crusted 
with jewels that gleamed like ice. 

Conan cast a glance at the pulsing 
ocean of lights which spread far below 
them, then glanced at Taurus. The 
Nemedian was drawing up his cord and 
coiling it. He showed Conan where the 
hook had caught—a fraction of an inch of 
the point had sunk under a great blazing 
jewel on the inner side of the rim. 

"Luck was with us again,” he mut¬ 
tered. "One would think that our com¬ 
bined weight would have torn that stone 
out. Follow me; the real risks of the ven¬ 
ture begin now. We are in the serpent’s 
lair, and we know not where he lies 
hidden.” 

I ike stalking tigers they crept across the 
J darkly gleaming floor and halted out¬ 
side the sparkling door. With a deft and 
cautious hand Taurus tried it. It gave 
without resistance, and the companions 
looked in, tensed for anything. Over the 
Nemedian’s shoulder Conan had a glimpse 
of a glittering chamber, the walls, ceiling 
and floor of which were crusted with great 
white jewels which lighted it brightly. 


THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT 


315 


and which seemed its only illumination. 
It seemed empty of life. 

"Before we cut off our last retreat," 
hissed Taurus, "go you to the rim and 
look over on all sides; if you see any sol¬ 
diers moving in the gardens, or anything 
suspicious, return and tell me. I will await 
you within this chamber.” 

Conan saw scant reason in this, and a 
faint suspicion of his companion touched 
his wary soul, but he did as Taurus re¬ 
quested. As he turned away, the Nemed- 
ian slipt inside the door and drew it shut 
behind him. Conan crept about the rim 
of the tower, returning to his starting- 
point without having seen any suspicious 
movement in the vaguely waving sea of 
leaves below. He turned toward the door 
—suddenly from within the chamber 
there sounded a strangled cry. 

The Cimmerian leaped forward, elec¬ 
trified—the gleaming door swung open 
and Taurus stood framed in the cold 
blaze behind him. He swayed and his 
lips parted, but only a dry rattle burst 
from his throat. Catching at the golden 
door for support, he lurched out upon the 
roof, then fell headlong, clutching at his 
throat. The door swung to behind him. 

Conan, crouching like a panther at bay, 
saw nothing in the room behind the 
stricken Nemedian, in the brief instant 
the door was partly open—unless it was 
not a trick of the light which made it 
seem as if a shadow darted across the 
gleaming floor. Nothing followed Tau¬ 
rus out on the roof, and Conan bent 
above the man. 

The Nemedian stared up with dilated, 
glazing eyes, that somehow held a terrible 
bewilderment. His hands clawed at his 
throat, his lips slobbered and gurgled; 
then suddenly he stiffened, and the 
astounded Cimmerian knew that he was 
dead. And he felt that Taurus had died 
without knowing what manner of death 


had stricken him. Conan glared bewil- 
deredly at the cryptic golden door. In 
that empty room, with its glittering 
jeweled walls, death had come to the 
prince of thieves as swiftly and mysteri¬ 
ously as he had dealt doom to the lions 
in the gardens below. 

Gingerly the barbarian ran his hands 
over the man’s half-naked body, seeking 
a wound. But the only marks of violence 
were between his shoulders, high up near 
the base of his bull-neck—three small 
wounds, which looked as if three nails had 
been driven deep in the flesh and with¬ 
drawn. The edges of these wounds were 
btack, and a faint smell as of putrefac¬ 
tion was evident. Poisoned darts? thought 
Conan—-but in that case the missiles 
should be still in the wounds. 

Cautiously he stole toward the golden 
door, pushed it open, and looked inside. 
The chamber lay empty, bathed in the 
cold, pulsing glow of the myriad jewels. 
In the very center of the ceiling he idly 
noted a curious design—a black eight- 
sided pattern, in the center of which four 
gems glittered with a red flame unlike the 
white blaze of the other jewels. Across 
the room there was another door, like the 
one in which he stood, except that it was 
not carved in the scale pattern. Was it 
from that door that death had come?— 
and having struck down its victim, had it 
retreated by the same way? 

C losing the door behind him, the 
Cimmerian advanced into the cham¬ 
ber. His bare feet made no sound on the 
crystal floor. There were no chairs or 
tables in the chamber, only three or four 
silken couches, embroidered with gold and 
worked in strange serpentine designs, and 
several silver-bound mahogany chests. 
Some were sealed with heavy golden 
locks; others lay open, their carven lids 
thrown back, revealing heaps of jewels 


316 


WEIRD TALES 


in a careless riot of splendor to the Cim¬ 
merian’s astounded eyes. Conan swore 
beneath his breath; already he had looked 
upon more wealth that night than he had 
ever dreamed existed in all the world, 
and he grew dizzy thinking of what must 
be the value of the jewel he sought. 

He was in the center of the room now, 
going stooped forward, head thrust out 
warily, sword advanced, when again death 
struck at him soundlessly. A flying shad¬ 
ow that swept across the gleaming floor 
was his only warning, and his instinctive 
sidelong leap all that saved his life. He 
had a flashing glimpse of a hairy black 
horror that swung past him with a clash¬ 
ing of frothing fangs, and something 
splashed on his bare shoulder that burned 
like drops of liquid hell-fire. Springing 
back, sword high, he saw the horror 
strike the floor, wheel and scuttle toward 
him with appalling speed—a gigantic 
black spider, such as men see only in 
nightmare dreams. 

It was as large as a pig, and its eight 
thick hairy legs drove its ogreish body over 
the floor at headlong pace; its four evilly 
gleaming eyes shone with a horrible in¬ 
telligence, and its fangs dripped venom 
that Conan knew, from the burning of 
his shoulder where only a few drops had 
splashed as the thing struck and missed, 
was laden with swift death. This was the 
killer that had dropped from its perch in 
the middle of the ceiling on a strand of 
its web, on the neck of the Nemedian. 
Fools that they were not to have suspected 
that the upper chambers would be guard¬ 
ed as well as the lower! 

These thoughts flashed briefly through 
Conan’s mind as the monster rushed. He 
leaped high, and it passed beneath him, 
wheeled and charged back. This time he 
evaded its rush with a sidewise leap, and 
struck back like a cat His sword severed 
one of the hairy legs, and again he barely 


saved himself as the monstrosity swerved 
at him, fangs clicking fiendishly. But the 
creature did not press the pursuit; turn¬ 
ing, it scuttled across the crystal floor and 
ran up the wall to the ceiling, where it 
crouched for an instant, glaring down at 
him with its fiendish red eyes. Then 
without warning it launched itself 
through space, trailing a strand of slimy 
grayish stuff. 

Conan stepped back to avoid the hurt¬ 
ling body—then ducked frantically, just 
in time to escape being snared by the fly¬ 
ing web-rope. He saw the monster’s in¬ 
tent and sprang toward the door, but it 
was quicker, and a sticky strand cast 
across the door made him a prisoner. He 
dared not try to cut it with his sword; he 
knew the stuff would cling to the blade, 
and before he could shake it loose, the 
fiend would be sinking its fangs into his 
back. 

Then began a desperate game, the wits 
and quickness of the man matched against 
the fiendish craft and speed of the giant 
spider. It no longer scuttled across the 
floor in a direct charge, or swung its body 
through the air at him. It raced about the 
ceiling and the walls, seeking to snare him 
in the long loops of sticky gray web- 
strands, which it flung with a devilish ac¬ 
curacy. These strands were thick as ropes, 
and Conan knew that once they were 
coiled about him, his desperate strength 
would not be enough to tear him free 
before the monster struck. 

All over the chamber went on that 
devil’s dance, in utter silence except for 
the quick breathing of the man, the low 
scuff of his bare feet on the shining floor, 
the castanet rattle of the monstrosity’s 
fangs. The gray strands lay in coils on 
the floor; they were looped along the 
walls; they overlaid the jewel-chests and 
silken couches, and hung in dusky fes¬ 
toons from the jeweled ceiling. Conan’s 


THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT 


317 


steel-trap quickness of eye and muscle 
had kept him untouched, though the 
sticky loops had passed him so close they 
rasped his naked hide. He knew he could 
not always avoid them; he not only had 
to watch the strands swinging from the 
ceiling, but to keep his eye on the floor, 
lest he trip in the coils that lay there. 
Sooner or later a gummy loop would 
writhe about him, python-like, and then, 
wrapped like a cocoon, he would lie at the 
monster’s mercy. 

The spider raced across the chamber 
floor, the gray rope waving out behind it. 
Conan leaped high, clearing a couch— 
with a quick wheel the fiend ran up the 
wall, and the strand, leaping off the floor 
like a live thing, whipped about the Cim¬ 
merian’s ankle. He caught himself on his 
hands as he fell, jerking frantically at the 
web which held him like a pliant vise, or 
the coil of a python. The hairy devil was 
racing down the wall to complete its cap¬ 
ture. Stung to frenzy, Conan caught up a 
jewel chest and hurled it with all his 
strength. It was a move the monster was 
not expecting. Full in the midst of the 
branching black legs the massive missile 
struck, smashing against the wall with a 
muffled sickening crunch. Blood and 
greenish slime spattered, and the shattered 
mass fell with the burst gem-chest to the 
floor. The crushed black body lay among 
the flaming riot of jewels that spilled 
over it; the hairy legs moved aimlessly, 
the dying eyes glittered redly among the 
twinkling gems. 

Conan glared about, but no other hor¬ 
ror appeared, and he set himself to work¬ 
ing free of the web. The substance clung 
tenaciously to his ankle and his hands, but 
at last he was free, and taking up his 
sword, he picked his way among the gray 
coils and loops to the inner door. What 
horrors lay within he did not know. The 
Cimmerian’s blood was up, and since he 


had come so far, and overcome so much 
peril, he was determined to go through to 
the grim finish of the adventure, whatever 
that might be. And he felt that the jewel 
he sought was not among the many so 
carelessly strewn about the gleaming 
chamber. 

Stripping off the loops that fouled the 
inner door, he found that it, like the 
other, was not locked. He wondered if 
the soldiers below were still unaware of 
his presence. Well, he was high above 
their heads, and if tales were to be be¬ 
lieved, they were used to strange noises in 
the tower above them—sinister sounds, 
and screams of agony and horror. 

Yara was on his mind, and he was not 
altogether comfortable as he opened the 
golden door. But he saw only a flight of 
silver steps leading down, dimly lighted 
by what means he could not ascertain. 
Down these he went silently, gripping his 
sword. He heard no sound, and came 
presently to an ivory door, set with blood¬ 
stones. He listened, but no sound came 
from within; only thin wisps of smoke 
drifted lazily from beneath the door, 
bearing a curious exotic odor unfamiliar 
to the Cimmerian. Below him the silver 
stair wound down to vanish in the dim¬ 
ness, and up that shadowy well no sound 
floated; he had an eery feeling that he was 
alone in a tower occupied only by ghosts 
and phantoms. 

3 

C autiously he pressed against the 
ivory door and it swung silently in¬ 
ward. On the shimmering threshold 
Conan stared like a wolf in strange sur¬ 
roundings, ready to fight or flee on the 
instant. He was looking into a large 
chamber with a domed golden ceiling; the 
walls were of green jade, the floor of 
ivory, partly covered by thick rugs. Smoke 


318 


WEIRD TALES 


and exotic scent of incense floated up 
from a brazier on a golden tripod, and 
behind it sat an idol on a sort of marble 
couch. Conan stared aghast; the image 
had the body of a man, naked, and green 
in color; but the head was one of night¬ 
mare and madness. Too large for the 
human body, it had no attributes of 
humanity. Conan stared at the wide flar¬ 
ing ears, the curling proboscis, on either 
side of which stood white tusks tipped 
with round golden balls. The eyes were 
closed, as if in sleep. 

This then, was the reason for the name, 
the Tower of the Elephant, for the head 
of the thing was much like that of the 
beasts described by the Shemitish wan¬ 
derer. This was Yara’s god; where then 
should the gem be, but concealed in the 
idol, since the stone was called the El¬ 
ephant’s Heart? 

As Conan came forward, his eyes fixed 
on the motionless idol, the eyes of the 
thing opened suddenly! The Cimmerian 
froze in his tracks. It was no image—it 
was a living thing, and he was trapped in 
its chamber! 

That he did not instantly explode in a 
burst of murderous frenzy is a fact that 
measures his horror, which paralyzed him 
where he stood. A civilized man in his 
position would have sought doubtful 
refuge in the conclusion that he was in¬ 
sane; it did not occur to the Cimmerian to 
doubt his senses. He knew he was face to 
face with a demon of the Elder World, 
and the realization robbed him of all his 
faculties except sight. 

The trunk of the horror was lifted and 
quested about, the topaz eyes stared un- 
seeingly, and Conan knew the monster 
was blind. With the thought came a 
thawing of his frozen nerves, and he 
began to back silently toward the door. 
But the creature heard. The sensitive 
trunk stretched toward him, and Conan’s 


horror froze him again when the being 
spoke, in a strange, stammering voice that 
never changed its key or timbre. The 
Cimmerian knew that those jaws were 
never built or intended for human speech. 

"Who is here? Have you come to tor¬ 
ture me again, Yara? Will you never be 
done? Oh, Yag-kosha, is there no end to 
agony?” 

Tears rolled from the sightless eyes, 
and Conan’s gaze strayed to the limbs 
stretched on the marble couch. And he 
knew the monster would not rise to at¬ 
tack him. He knew the marks of the 
rack, and the searing brand of the flame, 
and tough-souled as he was, he stood 
aghast at the ruined deformities which his 
reason told him had once been limbs as 
comely as his own. And suddenly all fear 
and repulsion went from him, to be re¬ 
placed by a great pity. What this monster 
was, Conan could not know, but the evi¬ 
dences of its sufferings were so terrible 
and pathetic that a strange aching sad¬ 
ness came over the Cimmerian, he knew 
not why. He only felt that he was look¬ 
ing upon a cosmic tragedy, and he shrank 
with shame, as if the guilt of a whole race 
were laid upon him. 

"I am not Yara," he said. "I am only 
a thief. I will not harm you.” 

"Come near that I may touch you,” the 
creature faltered, and Conan came near 
unfearingly, his sword hanging forgotten 
in his hand. The sensitive trunk came out 
and groped over his face and shoulders, 
as a blind man gropes, and its touch was 
light as a girl’s hand. 

"You are not of Yara’s race of devils,’* 
sighed the creature. "The clean, lean 
fierceness of the wastelands marks you. I 
know your people from of old, whom I 
knew by another name in the long, long 
ago when another world lifted its jeweled 
spires to the stars. There is blood on your 
fingers.” 


THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT 


319 


"A spider in the chamber above and a 
lion in the garden,” muttered Conan. 

"You have slain a man too, this night,” 
answered the other. "And there is death 
in the tower above. I feel; I know.” 

“Aye,” muttered Conan. "The prince 
of all thieves lies there dead from the bite 
of a vermin.” 

"So—and so!” the strange inhuman 
voice rose in a sort of low chant. "A 
slaying in the tavern and a slaying on the 
roof—I know; I feel. And the third will 
make the magic of which not even Yara 
dreams—ch, magic of deliverance, green 
gods of Yag!” 

Again tears fell as the tortured body 
was rocked to and fro in the grip of varied 
emotions. Conan looked on, bewildered. 

Then the convulsions ceased; the soft, 
sightless eyes were turned toward the 
Cimmerian, the trunk beckoned. 

"Oh man, listen,” said the strange 
being. "I am foul and monstrous to you, 
am I not? Nay, do not answer; I know. 
But you would seem as strange to me, 
could I see you. There are many worlds 
besides this earth, and life takes many 
shapes. I am neither god nor demon, but 
flesh and blood like yourself, though the 
substance differ in part, and the form be 
cast in different mold. 

"I am very old, oh man of the waste 
countries; long and long ago I came to 
this planet with others of my world, from 
the green planet Yag, which circles for 
ever in the outer fringe of this universe. 
We swept through space on mighty wings 
that drove us through the cosmos quicker 
than light, because we had warred with 
the kings of Yag and were defeated and 
outcast. But we could never return, for 
on earth our wings withered from our 
shoulders. Here we abode apart from 
earthly life. We fought the strange and 


terrible forms of life which then walked 
the earth, so that we became feared, and 
were not molested in the dim jungles of 
the east, where we had our abode. 

“We saw men grow from the ape and 
build the shining cities of Valusia, Kame- 
lia, Commoria, and their sisters. We saw 
them reel before the thrusts of the heathen 
Atlanteans and Piets and Lemurians. We 
saw the oceans rise and engulf Atlantis 
and Lemuria, and the isles of the Piets, 
and the shining cities of civilization. We 
saw the survivors of Pictdom and Atlantis 
build their stone age empires, and go 
down to min, locked in bloody wars. We 
saw the Piets sink into abysmal savagery, 
the Atlanteans into apedom again. We 
saw new savages drift southward in con¬ 
quering waves from the arctic circle to 
build a new civilization, with new king¬ 
doms called Nemedia, and Koth, and 
Aquilonia and their sisters. We saw your 
people rise under a new name from the 
jungles of the apes that had been At¬ 
lanteans. We saw the descendants of the 
Lemurians who had survived the cata¬ 
clysm, rise again through savagery and 
ride westward, as Hyrkanians. And we 
saw this race of devils, survivors of the 
ancient civilization that was before At¬ 
lantis sank, come once more into culture 
and power—this accursed kingdom of 
Zamora. 

"All this we saw, neither aiding nor 
hindering the immutable cosmic law, and 
one by one we died; for we of Yag are 
not immortal, though our lives are as the 
lives of planets and constellations. At last 
I alone was left, dreaming of old times 
among the ruined temples of jungle-lost 
Khitai, worshipped as a god by an ancient 
yellow-skinned race. Then came Yara, 
versed in dark knowledge handed down 
through tire days of barbarism, since 
before Atlantis sank. 


320 


WEIRD TALES 


“T7irst he sat at my feet and learned 
•T wisdom. But he was not satisfied 
with what I taught him, for it was white 
magic, and he wished evil lore, to enslave 
kings and glut a fiendish ambition. I 
would teach him none of the black secrets 
I had gained, through no wish of mine, 
through the eons. 

"But his wisdom was deeper than I had 
guessed; with guile gotten among the 
dusky tombs of dark Stygia, he trapped 
me into divulging a secret I had not in¬ 
tended to bare; and turning my own 
power upon me, he enslaved me. Ah, 
gods of Yag, my cup has been bitter since 
that hour! 

“He brought me up from the lost jun¬ 
gles of Khitai where the gray apes danced 
to the pipes of the yellow priests, and 
offerings of fruit and wine heaped my 
broken altars. No more was I a god to 
kindly jungle-folk—I was slave to a devil 
in human form.” 

Again tears stole from the unseeing 
eyes. 

"He pent me in this tower which at his 
command I built for him in a single night. 
By fire and rack he mastered me, and by 
strange unearthly tortures you would not 
understand. In agony I would long ago 
have taken my own life, if I could. But 
he kept me alive—mangled, blinded, and 
broken—to do his foul bidding. And for 
three hundred years I have done his bid¬ 
ding, from this marble couch, blackening 
my soul with cosmic sins, and staining my 
wisdom with crimes, because I had no 
other choice. Yet not all my ancient 
secrets has he wrested from me, and my 
last gift shall be the sorcery of the Blood 
and the Jewel. 

“For I feel the end of time draw near. 
You are the hand of Fate. I beg of you, 
take the gem you will find on yonder 
altar.” 

Conan turned to the gold and ivory 


altar indicated, and took up a great round 
jewel, clear as crimson crystal; and he 
knew that this was the Heart of the El¬ 
ephant. 

"Now for the great magic, the mighty 
magic, such as earth has not seen before, 
and shall not see again, through a million 
million of millenniums. By my life-blood 
I conjure it, by blood born on the green 
breast of Yag, dreaming far-poised in the 
great blue vastness of Space. 

"Take your sword, man, and cut out my 
heart; then squeeze it so that the blood 
will flow over the red stone. Then go you 
down these stairs and enter the ebony 
chamber where Yara sits wrapped in lotus- 
dreams of evil. Speak his name and he 
will awaken. Then lay this gem before 
him, and say, 'Yag-kosha gives you a last 
gift and a last enchantment.’ Then get 
you from the tower quickly; fear not, your 
way shall be made clear. The life of man 
is not the life of Yag, nor is human death 
the death of Yag. Let me be free of this 
cage of broken blind flesh, and I will once 
more be Yogah of Yag, morning-crowned 
and shining, with wings to fly, and feet to 
dance, and eyes to see, and hands to 
break.” 

Uncertainly Conan approached, and 
Yag-kosha, or Yogah, as if sensing his 
uncertainty, indicated where he should 
strike. Conan set his teeth and drove the 
sword deep. Blood streamed over the 
blade and his hand, and the monster 
started convulsively, then lay back quite 
still. Sure that life had fled, at least life 
as he understood it, Conan set to work on 
his grisly task and quickly brought forth 
something that he felt must be the strange 
being’s heart, though it differed curiously 
from any he had ever seen. Holding the 
still pulsing organ over the blazing jewel, 
he pressed it with both hands, and a rain 
of blood fell on the stone. To his sur¬ 
prize, it did not run off, but soaked into 
W. T.—S 


THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT 


321 


the gem, as water is absorbed by a sponge. 

Holding the jewel gingerly, he went 
out of the fantastic chamber and came 
upon the silver steps. He did not look 
back; he instinctively felt that some sort 
of transmutation was taking place in the 
body on the marble couch, and he further 
felt that it was of a sort not to be wit¬ 
nessed by human eyes. 

H e closed the ivory door behind him 
and without hesitation descended the 
silver steps. It did not occur to him to 
ignore the instructions given him. He 
halted at an ebony door, in the center of 
which was a grinning silver skull, and 
pushed it open. He looked into a cham¬ 
ber of ebony and jet, and saw, on a black 
silken couch, a tail, spare form reclining. 
Yara the priest and sorcerer lay before 
him, his eyes open and dilated with the 
fumes of the yellow lotus, far-staring, as 
if fixed on gulfs and nighted abysses 
beyond human ken. 

“Yara!” said Conan, like a judge pro¬ 
nouncing doom. "Awaken!” 

The eyes cleared instantly and became 
cold and cruel as a vulture’s. The tall 
silken-clad form lifted erect, and towered 
gauntly above the Cimmerian. 

"Dog!” His hiss was like the voice of 
a cobra. "What do you here?” 

Conan laid the jewel on the great 
ebony table. 

"He who sent this gem bade me say, 
'Yag-kosha gives a last gift and a last en¬ 
chantment.’ ” 

Yara recoiled, his dark face ashy. The 
jewel was no longer crystal-clear; its 
murky depths pulsed and throbbed, and 
curious smoky waves of changing color 
passed over its smooth surface. As if 
drawn hypnotically, Yara bent over the 
table and gripped the gem in his hands, 
staring into its shadowed depths, as if it 
W. T.—4 


were a magnet to draw the shuddering 
soul from his body. And as Conan looked, 
he thought that his eyes must be playing 
him tricks. For when Yara had risen up 
from his couch, the priest had seemed 
gigantically tall; yet now he saw that 
Yara’s head would scarcely come to his 
shoulder. He blinked, puzzled, and for 
the first time that night, doubted his own 
senses. Then with a shock he realized that 
the priest was shrinking in stature—was 
growing smaller before his very gaze. 

With a detached feeling he watched, 
as a man might watch a play; immersed in 
a feeling of overpowering unreality, the 
Cimmerian was no longer sure of his own 
identity; he only knew that he was look¬ 
ing upon the external evidences of the un¬ 
seen play of vast Outer forces, beyond 
his understanding. 

Now Yara was no bigger than a child; 
now like an infant he sprawled on the 
table, still grasping the jewel. And now 
the sorcerer suddenly realized his fate, 
and he sprang up, releasing the gem. But 
still he dwindled, and Conan saw a tiny, 
pigmy figure rushing wildly about the 
ebony table-top, waving tiny arms and 
shrieking in a voice that was like the 
squeak of an insect. 

Now he had shrunk until the great 
jewel towered above him like a hill, and 
Conan saw him cover his eyes with his 
hands, as if to shield them from the glare, 
as he staggered about like a madman. 
Conan sensed that some unseen magnetic 
force was pulling Yara to the gem. 
Thrice he raced wildly about it in a nar¬ 
rowing circle, thrice he strove to turn and 
run out across the table; then with a 
scream that echoed faintly in the ears of 
the watcher, the priest threw up his arms 
and ran straight toward the blazing globe. 

Bending close, Conan saw Yara clamber 
up the smooth, curving surface, impos- 


322 


WEIRD TALES 


sibly, like a man climbing a glass moun¬ 
tain. Now the priest stood on the top, 
still with tossing arms, invoking what 
grisly names only the gods know. And 
suddenly he sank into the very heart of 
the jewel, as a man sinks into a sea, and 
Conan saw the smoky waves close over 
his head. Now he saw him in the crimson 
heart of the jewel, once more crystal- 
clear, as a man sees a scene far away, tiny 
with great distance. And into the heart 
came a green, shining winged figure with 
the body of a man and the head of an el¬ 
ephant—no longer blind or crippled. 
Yara threw up his arms and fled as a 
madman flees, and on his heels came the 
avenger. Then, like the bursting of a bub¬ 
ble, the great jewel vanished in a rainbow 
burst of iridescent gleams, and the ebony 
table-top lay bare and deserted-—as bare, 
Conan somehow knew, as the marble 
couch in the chamber above, where the 
body of that strange transcosmic being 
called Yag-kosha and Yogah Had iain. 

The Cimmerian turned and fled from 
the chamber, down the silver stairs. So 
mazed was he that it did not occur to him 
to escape from the tower by the way he 
had entered it. Down that winding, shad¬ 
owy silver well he ran, and came into a 


large chamber at the foot of the gleaming 
stairs. There he halted for an instant; he 
had come into the room of the soldiers. 
He saw the glitter of their silver corselets, 
the sheen of their jeweled sword-hilts. 
They sat slumped at the banquet board, 
their dusky plumes waving somberly 
above their drooping helmeted heads; they 
lay among their dice and fallen goblets 
on the wine-stained lapis-lazuli floor. And 
he knew that they were dead. The promise 
had been made, the word kept; whether 
sorcery or magic or the falling shadow of 
great green wings had stilled the revelry, 
Conan could not know, but his way had 
been made clear. And a silver door stood 
open, framed in the whiteness of dawn. 

Into the waving green gardens came the 
Cimmerian, and as the dawn wind blew 
upon him with the cool fragrance of luxu¬ 
riant growths, he started like a mao wak¬ 
ing from a dream. He turned back un¬ 
certainly, to stare at the cryptic tower he 
had just left. Was he bewitched and en¬ 
chanted? Had he dreamed ali that had 
seemed to have passed? As he looked he 
saw the gleaming tower sway against the 
crimson dawn, its jewel-crusted rim spark¬ 
ling in the growing light, and crash into 
shining shards. 







I T HAD been a hard day at the labora¬ 
tory and every nerve in my body 
shrieked for rest. I drowsed through 
dinner like a man in a trance, attempted 
to read afterward and, catching myself 
napping, finally threw down my book 
in disgust and retired. 

I awoke with a start. An alien pres¬ 
ence seemed to permeate the room. Shud¬ 
dering, I attempted to reach the cord on 
the reading-lamp by the side of my bed, 
but some strange power held me back;. 


Every faculty was paralyzed. I wanted 
to shriek—to summon my servant—but 
my vocal cords would make no sound. 
My tongue clove to the roof of my 
mouth. Only my brain seemed alive and 
it was a seething mass of panicky terror 
—an inferno of overmastering horror of 
the unknown. 

What was it? What evil spell was op¬ 
pressing me like an incubus? I was lying 
on my side facing the window. The night 
was dark and starless; even as I gazed 
323 


324 


WEIRD TALES 


into the blackness the room commenced 
to fill with a soft, phosphorescent light. 
It grew stronger and stronger. I tried to 
tell myself that it was the moon filtering 
through some fleecy cloud, but my fear- 
filled subconsciousness refused to swal¬ 
low the lie. 

Slowly the strange, weird glow divided 
itself into two rays. They darted here and 
there like beacon-fires, circling and danc¬ 
ing from place to place until they finally 
settled full upon my face. My eyes 
glared back at them unblinkingly, for 
their peculiar brightness had no effect 
upon my pupils. It seemed as if I could 
trace them on and on through the star¬ 
less sky to where they found birth on a 
mountain peak protruding above the 
clouds. 

Somewhere outside a night bird 
shrieked raucously. The grating sound 
startled me out of the panic which 
gripped me. I tried to bring cold logic 
and reasoning to bear upon my condition, 
but in vain. The very atmosphere seemed 
filled with evil. 

Slowly the scene changed. My vision, 
following the twin beams to their source, 
saw the rocky eminence dissolve into a 
human face partly hidden behind a mass 
of black, scurrying clouds. A human face, 
I say, but what a face! Hard, ruthless, 
crafty, age-weathered, demoniacal, it 
glared at me through slanting, almond- 
shaped eyes, that glittered like fires of 
hell, piercing the darkness like projectiles 
of molten metaL I tried to dose my lids 
against them, but in vain. They burned 
themselves into my pupils until they 
seared the very core of my brain. 

An urge crept over me—an overmas¬ 
tering desire to hurl myself through space. 
Invisible hands seemed to tear me from 
my bed. I fought against them with 
every bit of will-power at my command; 
but those glittering, menacing orbs 


dragged at me, pulling at me as a mag¬ 
net attracts a bit of iron. I felt myself 
lifted ... I was floating. . . . 

The window-screen was jerked from its 
hooks by strange hands; they were my 
hands—I noted my seal ring on one of 
the fingers—yet they were the hands of 
some one else. How can I describe my 
sensations? I was myself, John Dolby, 
yet I was another person. I was like a 
man who sees his own figure projected 
upon the screen. 

I dropped. Down . . . down . . . 
down. . . . 

Then sudden blackness engulfed me. 

I opened my eyes and gazed wonder- 
ingly at the crushed and bleeding fig¬ 
ure that lay upon the cold, hard pave¬ 
ment beneath my window. I knew that 
it was I—that I had succumbed to the 
urge of those cruel eyes and had com¬ 
mitted suicide. Yet—and here comes 

again one of the strange oddities of my 
fantastic tale —it was not 1. I was di¬ 
vided again; I was two separate and dis¬ 
tinct entities. I was lying, a battered 
heap, upon the stones of the street, yet I 
was standing beside my own body look¬ 
ing at myself as one gazes upon an old 
suit of clothes that he has discarded. A 
huge policeman came running up; he 
muttered a startled curse. Then, jerking 
his whistle from his pocket, he shrilled 
for help. He paid no attention to me. 
It was my body that attracted his atten¬ 
tion. I floated around him like vapor.. .. 

Again I was drifting through space, 
dragged onward and upward and yet held 
to earth. I felt myself stretching like a 
rubber band. Two attractions were at 
work, one holding me back, the other 
pulling me upward. . . . 

Next I was standing by the side of a 
rude bed. Around me danced those hard, 
cruel eyes. There were thousands of 
them now; they filled the space, it seemed, 


GERMS OF DEATH 


325 


for millions and millions of miles. Yet 
there was a man upon the bed. And he, 
too, was twain, for he stood beside me, 
a tall, wraith-like figure in flowing robes, 
his saffron face convulsed with fury. 

"Back! Back!” he shrieked. "I will 
not die to make a place for you!” 

I gazed down at the quiet form upon 
the bed. I knew that it was not I—that 
it belonged to this lemon-skinned man 
who sought to hold me away—yet it was 
also I. The dancing eyes pulled me 
closer. A quiet voice whispered in my 
ear that I must claim my own. The va¬ 
porish figure gnashed his teeth. His 
hands were against my shoulders. He 
attempted to push me away. Slowly the 
pressure relaxed, and he dissolved into 
nothingness. . . . 

Again I awoke with a start. For a 
moment I lay stretching and yawning, 
wondering at my strange dream. I was 
still weary, and for an instant I was 
tempted to roll over and go to sleep 
again. Then, remembering the task that 
I had left unfinished at the laboratory, I 
forced myself to open my eyes. I sat up 
with an exclamation of surprize. 

God in heaven! It was not a dream! 

The morning sun was shining through 
the window. The room was strangely 
unfamiliar—a huge, Oriental-appearing 
chamber with stone walls. It was over¬ 
flowing with lavish trappings and rare 
draperies. Even the bed was not my own. 
What had happened? Where was I? 
Had I met with an accident? Was my 
fantastic nightmare the result of an ether- 
fuddled brain? Was this a hospital? 

A movement beside me brought my 
ruminations to a sudden close. I turned 
my head, expecting to be greeted by a 
white-clad nurse. Instead, a man was 
sitting by my bedside. He looked up 
from the book he was reading and greeted 
me with a slight nod. 


"Good morning!” he said. The voice 
was harsh, stilted and metallic. 

I gazed at him wonderingly. His face, 
distinctly Mongolian, was thin, seamed 
with age, ruthless. He was unusually tall, 
emaciated; his yellow skin as dry as 
parchment; his eyes, sunken into their 
sockets, black as coals; they glittered like 
those of a snake. His left arm hung use¬ 
less by his side. I noted, too, that his 
left leg was withered and twisted and that 
the side of his face twitched and jerked 
spasmodically. A crutch leaned against 
the chair. He was clad in a loose, flow¬ 
ing garment of white, arid a black skull¬ 
cap adorned his hairless head. 

There was something strangely familiar 
about the fellow. I blew that I had seen 
him before. I strove to recollect. 

Then, suddenly, it flashed over me. His 
was the face that I had seen in the night 
—the face behind the mass of clouds 
high in the heavens. His were the eyes— 
those cruel, evil-filled eyes—that had 
dragged at me. . . . 

2 

H ad my senses tricked me? Was I 
still dreaming? For an instant 
longer I lay there gazing at the hideous 
face. Then I pulled myself to a sitting 
position. 

"Where the devil am I?” I demanded. 
"And, by the same token, who are you?” 

The aged yellow man chuckled low, 
mockingly. 

"I am Yah Hoon,” he rasped. "Doubt¬ 
less the name is unfamiliar to you, but 
fame is only a fleeting thing at best; so 
what matters whether you know me or 
not? We will grow better acquainted as 
time goes on. As to your whereabouts— 

you are in Tibet-” 

"Tibet?” I gasped. 

He nodded. Then he went on, his 
rasping voice fairly crackling with energy. 


326 


WEIRD TALES 


"I needed you; what I need I take. 
Like yourself, I am a scientist. And 
science, as you, a scientist, must admit, 
refuses to be bound by the so-called 
human law.” 

I leaped out of bed in a spasm of fury. 

“What chicanery is this?” I roared. 

He held up his gaunt right hand in a 
gesture of impatience. 

“Dress!” he commanded curtly. “And 
cease arguing.” He indicated a loose robe 
similar to the one he was wearing. "Un¬ 
fortunately I could not transport your 
clothes through the ether, so you will 
have to content yourself with those you 
find. The man whose body I borrowed 
for you did not find them uncomfortable, 
I assure you. At least, he was loth to give 
them to you.” 

He chuckled grimly at his jest. Then, 
with a jerk of his thumb, he indicated a 
long mirror set into the rocky wall. I 
took a step toward it, only to leap back 
with an exclamation of horror. The man 
who stared back at me was a Mongolian 
—a slant-eyed, yellow-skinned creature 
with high forehead. It was he whose 
body I had seen lying upon the bed. It 
was the wraith-like thing who had tried 
to drive me back. 

My brain was whirling. Who was I? 
I knew that I was Doctor John Dolby, 
the man who had discovered and segre¬ 
gated the previously unsuspected para¬ 
noiac germ and made it possible for med¬ 
ical science to combat that dread disease 
successfully. I knew that I was a well- 
known figure in the world of medicine 
and science because of my researches in 
the field of bacterioscopy and pathogeny. 
Yet how could I be Doctor John Dolby 
when I was this strange being whose re¬ 
flection scowled back at me from the 
glass? I turned to Yah Hoon, my lips 
drawn back over my fangs in a wolfish 
snarl. 


"Explain!” I demanded, a wave of 
anger surging over me. 

He spread his right hand out, palm up, 
in a gesture of impatience. 

“You, one of the world’s greatest 
scientists, asking for an explanation?” he 
mocked with an amused glitter in his 
snake-like eyes. "All right, my friend, 
you shall have it. You are in Koko-Nur, 
a lost city on an island in the Chaidam 
marsh in the province of Tasidam in 
Tibet. A glance through the window 
will prove my statement. As to how you 
got here—there you have a question more 
difficult for me to answer.” 

He arose and, leaning on his crutch, 
pointed down to his crippled side. 

"I am old—very old,” he said with 
a touch of sadness in his voice, "so old 
that death long ago marked me for his 
own. I fear death—hate it! Only by 
force of will have I staved it off. And I 
will cheat it yet, even though it creeps 
upon me like a wolf in the dark, seek¬ 
ing to catch me unawares.” 

He cackled mirthlessly at his own 
words. 

"You ask me how you got here,” he 
went on. "You demand an explanation. 
Listen: Broken and withered though my 
body is, within this skull of mine is 
stored the wisdom of the ages. With 
the power of thought man can do any¬ 
thing, even fight off death for a short 
space of time. But with your help, my 
friend, I will renew my life. I will live 
for ever! 

"I have heard of your work,” he went 
on. "For even here in this God-forsaken 
hole news seeps in; my agents are every¬ 
where seeking out that which they think 
will aid me in my experiments. There 
are thousands of other scientists, any one 
of whom would make me an efficient 
laboratory assistant. But you—ah, my 
friend, I have not forgotten your out- 


GERMS OF DEATH 


327 


standing work in pathogenic bacteria. It 
has made you an outstanding figure in 
the world of vaccinotherapy. No one else 
has the technical learning for my ad¬ 
vanced needs. I, crippled and pain- 
racked, could not go to you. So I willed 
that you should come to me. You an¬ 
swered my call.” 

"I do not understand?” I gasped, still 
bewildered. "One can not transport a 
body through the ether.” 

"No,” he smiled. "But remember that 
there is no life, intelligence or substance 
in matter. All is mind—thought. I cap¬ 
tured your intellect—your soul, as it were. 
I care not a whit for your carcass. By the 
power of my will I threw Huang, the 
man whose body you wear, into a death¬ 
like trance last night. Perhaps he is dead 
as we .know death. Be that as it may, 
your thought—your intelligence—obeyed 
my command and took possession of his 
stalwart young frame. And it is your in¬ 
tellect that will finish this great experi¬ 
ment for me. 

"Understand me,” he went on, "after 
death intellect still functions, for it is 
the soul—the germ of everything. But I 
fear dissolution and do not wish tc go 
that route. I would live for ever—on 
and on to the very end of time. Perhaps 
I may even allow you to taste the fruits 
of my discovery. Who knows?” 

His face was twisted into a sardonic 
grin. He cackled mirthlessly in a cracked 
treble, his almond eyes narrowed and 
twitched. The effort was too great for 
him, and he dropped back into his chair 
with a groan of pain. 

"Oldage! Old age!” he shrieked. "God, 
what a tragedy! Power! I shall have 
power when death has ceased to be. The 
world will worship at my feet. Even¬ 
tually I will rule the earth. Kings and 
dictators will bow to me; thrones will 
totter and fall. That is why I came here. 


They would kill me rather than allow me 
to continue. That is why I buried myself 
in this forgotten hole, that I might work 
undisturbed. There was another reason, 
too, a reason that you will soon under¬ 
stand. But I must rest for a moment. 
The strain is too great for me.” 

He leaned back against the cushions, 
his breath coming in great gasps. 

"Death!” he murmured to himself. 
"Death! God, what a filthy thing it is! 
I hate it—hate it with an intensity such 

as man has never had before. I-” 

His voice died away in a tired whisper. 
He closed his eyes. For a moment I 
thought that he slept. 

I stepped softly across the room to 
where a narrow window was carved 
out of the rock. For a moment I devoured 
the scene spread out before me. Then I, 
too, dropped into a chair with a groan. 
Great heavens! It was not a dream. 
Around me on all sides, as far as the eye 
could see, stretched a strange city—a city 
of quaint, box-like, white, almost win¬ 
dowless buildings—a city of distinctly 
foreign aspect. Men and women in out¬ 
landish garb walked its streets and jos¬ 
tled in the market-place: Mongols, Tibet¬ 
ans, Chinese, Burmese—a mixture of 
many nationalities. 

Little wonder I gasped again as it all 
flashed over me. I, John Dolby, Master 
of Science, Doctor of Medicine, Bachelor 
of Arts, Doctor of Laws, possessor of 
many degrees, had gone to sleep in my 
own apartment in New York, only to 
wake up next morning in a strange bed 
in this far-off city. And, even worse, I 
was not John Dolby. I was some one 
else—a man called Huang—a saffron¬ 
skinned man with crafty, slanted eyes 
and cunning, tricky features. 

Yet I was not this creature. I was 
John Dolby. 


328 


WEIRD TALES 


3 

Y ah hoon was mad. That much was 
apparent to me from the very first. 
Yet he was a genius—a Chinaman of rare 
intelligence who had, in some manner, 
found his way to this city hidden in the 
marshes, to use it for his own foul pur¬ 
poses. He was bewildering, horrifying, 
like a walking dead man with the face 
of a devil. 

"Death is a disease,” he remarked, 
leaning t adk in his chair and refilling his 
long-stemmed pipe from a bowl of to¬ 
bacco at his side. He lit it from a brazier 
suspended from the ceiling and, puffing 
slowly, gazed at me cynically through 
half-closed eyes. His spasm of weakness 
had passed away and he was, apparently, 
himself again. "Death causes sickness. 
Wrong, did I hear you say? But I am 
not wrong. Let me explain. Stricken 
down with this accursed paralysis at the 
very height of my experiments, I have 
had plenty of time to reflect. 

"The atmosphere which surrounds us 
is filled with germs of death. We draw 
these tiny bacteria into our systems with 
every breath. They are constantly at 
work seeking to undermine our bodies. 
Every blow we strike, every step we take, 
every thought that flashes through our 
brains is accompanied by the disintegra¬ 
tion of a certain amount of muscular or 
nervous fiber. Thus each action of our 
corporeal life, from its beginning to its 
end, takes place at the expense of the 
vitality of a part of our organized struc¬ 
ture.” 

He smiled at my look of incredulity. 
Then, with a gesture of impatience, he 
went on. 

"These germs of death fill every lung 
cell. They course through our veins. They 
find resting-places amid our bones and 
tissues, waiting an opportunity to strike. 
Perhaps years pass before the chance 


comes. But when it does come, they are 
lightning-like in their rapidity. Some¬ 
times they strike in childhood; often not 
until we have reached mature years. But 
once they gain a foothold, disease in¬ 
variably follows—a war to the finish be¬ 
tween the body and the germ—a conflict 
in which the Grim Reaper is always the 
victor.” 

"Old age?” I interrupted, interested 
in spite of myself in his weird philoso¬ 
phy. "Your own case, for instance?” 

"Ah!” he snarled, his right hand rest¬ 
ing on the arm of the chair closing until 
the knuckles showed white under the saf¬ 
fron skin. For an instant there was si¬ 
lence— dreadful, awesome. Then he 
leaned forward, his jet-black eyes glaring 
into my own. 

"The natural decay of the organs 
brought about by these germs of death,” 
he rasped. "That is my answer to your 
question regarding old age. My brain 
has been too active. I weakened certain 
cells by over-thinking. The bacteria were 
in my system; they found my weakness 
and commenced their accursed work. That 
is why you are here. You can do things, 
while I can only think, and think and 
think—of death.” 

He refilled his long-stemmed pipe 
again and relighted it with an almost de¬ 
fiant glance at me as if he dared me to 
dispute his statement. 

"You have read Jenner?” he demanded. 

“Naturally,” I answered. 

"Then you understand my theory. I 
propose to cope with death as Jenner 
coped with smallpox,” he resumed. 
"With your help I will isolate these germs 
of death of which I spoke. After segre¬ 
gating them, I will prepare a virus from 
them for the prevention and treatment 
of death. Jenner’s theory of vaccination 
has been extended to several other dis¬ 
eases, among them asthma, typhoid fever, 
pneumonia, hay-fever and others. Jenner 


GERMS OF DEATH 


329 


was right in his hypothesis, but he, to use 
one of your Americanisms, got off on the 
wrong foot. He sought to prevent the 
disease that caused death. He should— 
and he is not the first physician to err— 
have vaccinated against the death which 
created the disease. If we inoculate 
against disease, we have simply halted 
death for an instant; if we inoculate 
against death, there will be no disease. 
Have I made myself clear?” 

I stared at him aghast. 

"Then there will be no death,” I said 
in an awed whisper. 

He nodded. 

"Once this bacterium is discovered and 
prepared in the form of virus, its injec¬ 
tion will stop all human ills and life will 
be prolonged for ever,” he answered. 

He raised his clenched right fist and 
shook it in a sudden spasm. 

"Life! Eternal life!” he shrieked. 
"God, how I long for it! I feel the Grim 
Reaper creeping upon me. We must 
work fast.” 

The man’s mood changed. He got up 
from his seat with an effort and, adjust¬ 
ing his crutch beneath his arm, indicated 
that I was to follow him. 

"My efforts have, so far, been mere 
gestures in the right direction,” he went 
on. "But let us start at the beginning. I 
will first show you the laboratory. It is 
best that you inspect the tools with which 
you will work.” 

A flush of anger mounted to my face 
at his tone and I doubled my fists until 
the nails bit into the flesh. 

"I am not yours to command!” I 
snarled. "I-” 

He turned his head slowly in my di¬ 
rection, his beady eyes glaring at me. A 
cold chill chased up and down my spine. 
I halted midway in my speech, my tongue 
cleaving to the roof of my mouth. A 
nebulous haze appeared in front of my 
face. I tried to fight it off, but in vain. 


It seemed to me that the world was filled 
with age-worn faces and sulfurous eyes. 
They danced around me, dragging me 
forward against my will. The room swan, 
in circles, the floor swaying up and down 
like the deck of a ship in a choppy sea. 
I swayed and would have fallen had I not 
clutched the carved back of one of the 
chairs. 

"Fool!” Yah Hoon snapped. '.'Now 
follow me.” 

The mist cleared away. I rubbed my 
eyes sleepily. He was hobbling painfully 
toward a narrow door at the end of the 
room without giving'me a second glance. 
And I, like a dog that has been chastised, 
followed in his wake. 

He opened the door. From it a circular 
flight of steps led downward, ending in 
a passageway cut in the stone. It, in 
turn, led to a second door. Yah Hoon 
threw it open and, stepping inside, halted 
and waited for me to enter. I stepped 
past him, then paused in astonishment. 

I T was a large room—as big, in fact, 
as that used for laboratory purposes 
in some of our best colleges—a compart¬ 
ment seemingly carved out of solid rock 
and lighted by braziers set in wrought- 
iron sconces fastened to the walls. Its 
shelves and benches and tables were also 
of stone; they were covered with flasks 
and beakers and bottles of every size and 
. description. I drew closer and inspected 
them. There v/ere chemicals of which 
even I, with my long experience, had no 
knowledge. Here, too, were microscopes 
of the finest quality, test-tubes, pipettes, 
Bunsen burners—everything needed for 
research work. Even my own workshop 
in the college was a paltry thing com¬ 
pared to this gigantic scientific array. 

My face must have betrayed the ex¬ 
citement under which I labored, for Yah 
Hoon’s countenance twisted into a wry 
smile as I turned to him. 


330 


WEIRD TALES 


"You like it?” he questioned. 

“Wonderful!” I exclaimed. "To think 
that such a magnificent laboratory is bur¬ 
ied so far from civilization.” 

"I am a Chinaman,” he answered 
proudly. "From the beginning of time 
the Chinese have been the leaders in 
scientific research. I have been years 
gathering this collection. As I told you 
before, my agents have searched the globe 
for the latest in apparatus and chemicals. 
I am old, Dolby, much older than you 
imagine, and wealthy, too, beyond the 
dreams of avarice. Yet the greater part 
of my life has been spent in this very 
room. I have dedicated myself to the one 
objective—the search for eternal life. For 
what value has gold, and what does my 
more precious store of knowledge avail 
me, if my bones are moldering in the 
tomb?” 

He stopped suddenly. 

"We scientists are all alike,” he grunt¬ 
ed with a shrug of his thin shoulders. 
"We are what you in America call 'nuts.’ 
But enough. I have other wonders to 
show you—the reservoir from which you 
will draw your material.” 

He hobbled over to what looked like 
a solid section of the wall and pressed 
against one of the shelves. A portion 
of rock slid noiselessly to one side, re¬ 
vealing another flight of steps leading 
to the bottom of a narrow well. We 
followed them downward; the end of the 
shaft disclosed a tunnel hewn out of the 
rocks. Yah Hoon led the way along this 
tunnel, lighting braziers set in the walls 
from the taper which he carried. At the 
end of the defile was another set of steps 
leading downward. They ended in a 
cul-de-sac. 

The Chinaman turned to me again. 

"This workshop of mine is, like many 
others in Tibet, built into the side of a 
hill,” he said. "I selected it from many 
when I came here because of its peculiar 


location. The rocky mountain into which 
it is cut is hollow—perhaps a small, ex¬ 
tinct volcano. Be that as it may, they 
have a curious custom of burial here—a 
custom I never encountered before. I 
brought many of my countrymen with me. 
Under my direction they hewed these 
steps and tunnels into the very womb of 
the hill. Later they died—for it is not 
well that too many should share my se¬ 
cret. So now you, of all the world, possess 
the knowledge of this entrance.” 

Again he stopped, a twisted grin 
creeping over his leathery face. I shud¬ 
dered in spite of myself, for it was easy 
to guess the meaning of his words. 

"As I just told you, because of the 
custom of the inhabitants of this place 
of burying their dead en masse in the hol¬ 
low mountain, I picked this town for the 
center of my activities,” he went on. 
"And, now, Dolby, gaze upon my treas¬ 
ure trove.” 

He chuckled mirthlessly as he stuck 
the lighted taper into a niche in the wall. 

“Note where I press,” he warned, 
touching a certain spot in the stone. 

A slab of rock in front of us rolled 
away. I stepped back with an exclamation 
of horror as a draft of fetid air struck 
me full in the face. Then, at a sign from 
Yah Hoon, I drew closer. 

We were standing at the edge of an 
enormous cavern, many acres in extent 
and towering upward several hundred 
feet. In the roof was a small hole through 
which the sun was streaming, bringing 
out the horrors of the place in curious 
highlights and shadows. 

It was a gigantic charnel-house. The 
floor was covered with human skeletons 
—thousands of them. Upon them, piled 
almost to the ceiling, were corpses—men, 
women, children—in various stages of 
dissolution. They formed a huge pyramid 
caused by the slipping down of the bodies 


GERMS OF DEATH 


331 


from the apex as fresh ones were dropped 
in from above. 

There they lay, the new-dead mingling 
with the bones of their ancestors, naked 
corpses with glassy eyes and twisted 
limbs. They glared at us from all sides 
—horrible, grotesque caricatures of hu¬ 
manity. Even as we gazed, a fresh body 
was dropped in from above. It rolled 
down at us, bounding, dancing, arms 
flopping like those of a scarecrow, bring¬ 
ing down an avalanche of other carcasses 
with it. Singularly, it ceased movement 
almost at our feet and, rolling on its 
back as it stopped, stared up at us icily, 
its lips drawn back in a leering grin. 

"God!” I shrieked, dropping back 
with a shudder. 

Yah Hoon cackled gleefully. 

"Yet you wonder why I fear death,” 
he said grimly. "Can you blame me, 
knowing as I do that I shall soon be as 
that thing unless I can find a way to stave 
off the king of terrors? How do you 
know, my friend, that you are not dead 
even now? It is in my mind that the 
body of John Dolby lies in some Amer¬ 
ican undertaker’s shop. Yet you are 
here, and the body you inhabit is that of 
another man. Explain that.” 

Again he chuckled. His voice echoed 
and re-echoed through the cavern. 

The world was swimming before my 
eyes. I turned away, drawn by another 
will than my own. It seemed as if an¬ 
other man—the one whose body I wore 
—was standing beside me, warning me, 
trying to drag me back. . . . 

4 

T here is one puzzling thing about 
these memories of mine. The time 
element is vague, indistinct. I can only 
tell the passage of time by going back 
over the newspapers dating from my 
death up to the present. Sometimes it 


seems as if I had always been Huang, a 
native of Koko-Nur; again I have misty 
recollections of a former life in Tibet. 
My only explanation is that, in inherit¬ 
ing the body of Huang, Yah Hoon’s as¬ 
sistant, I also came into possession of a 
bit of his brain that had not died with 
him and that this piece of gray matter 
functions subconsciously. 

And yet another thought comes to me. 
Was Huang really dead when I took pos¬ 
session of his framework? Or was he 
merely in a trance? Is it not possible that 
he, in striving to regain his mortal body, 
sometimes gains possession of my 
thoughts? Who knows? But why specu¬ 
late? It gets me nowhere. I am a crea¬ 
ture accursed. 

Fear! God, what a reign of fear I went 
through in the great stone house of Yah 
Hoon the Chinaman in Koko-Nur—a 
procession of nightmares in which the 
parchment-like face of Yah Hoon was 
intermingled with the spawn of the char¬ 
nel-house. Even now I wake up with a 
start, the cold sweat standing out on my 
forehead in great globules, imagining 
that I am back there in that huge labora¬ 
tory hewn in the solid rock, a dozen dead 
bodies surrounding me, while on the 
other side of the door the carrion is piled 
high within the cavern. And over every¬ 
thing is the sickening stench of death and 
dissolution. Would I have these dreams 
if I had not passed through the horrors 
of which I write? 

I was a prisoner within that rock-bound 
cavern. Not a prisoner in the sense that 
I was guarded, for I was not; but never¬ 
theless I was confined within the four 
walls as securely as if surrounded by a 
million armed guards, for I was tied 
down by the power of thought. Time 
after time I tried to break away—to get 
out—to shriek my fantastic story to the 
world; for even in Koko-Nur, in far-off 
Tibet, I believe that there were men of 


332 


WEIRD TALES 


brains—men who would listen to reason.- 
Yet I was never able to combat the su¬ 
perior will of Yah Hoon—the will that 
ordered me to remain. 

From the time I arrived until the fatal 
day when Yah Hoon died I never left 
that grim, stone building with its rear 
cut into the hillside. Yah Hoon, wise 
old fox that he was, sensed my feelings, 
without a doubt, yet he said nothing. 
Only many, many times I have seen him 
gazing at me from under his drooping 
lids, a cynical smile twisting across his 
wrinkled face. He reminded me of some 
huge gargoyle—some unclean monster 
carved out of the rock from which his 
dwelling was made. Yet he held me in a 
mesmeric spell, just as a serpent hypno¬ 
tizes a bird. There must have been a touch 
of cruelty in his make-up, for I am cer¬ 
tain that he got a quiet satisfaction out 
of watching me writhe beneath the pres¬ 
sure of his thought. 

I am not going into detail. Suffice to 
say that day after day I bent over my 
test-tubes and burners, experimenting, 
testing, laboring like a work-horse at Yah 
Hoon’s command. Under the impetus of 
his powerful will I carried on the work 
that he had started. But since I was un¬ 
der the dictation of Yah Hoon’s mind, 
how was it possible for me to carry on 
my experiments independent of him? 
For had I not been allowed to use my own 
scientific knowledge—had Yah Hoon 
suggested every move I made—I would 
have been nothing more than a mere 
laboratory assistant. And, remember, 
Yah Hoon had seized me for what I 
knew. Perhaps I can explain, even though 
the task is a difficult one. Yah Hoon 
held me in his spell, he forced me to 
work; yet he merely presented the prob¬ 
lem to be solved, never interfering with 
the methods used. Results were what he 
demanded, caring not how they were ob¬ 
tained. I was a machine which, started 


in the right direction, went on and on 
and on until I reached the end of the 
road. 

And the dead! Ugh! That charnel- 
house filled with stark, naked bodies, their 
fishy eyes glaring at me from out of the 
darkness. I was a ghoul, a despoiler of 
graves, the lowest thing that mortal man 
can sink to. I surrounded myself with 
cadavers. The tables were covered with 
them; they were stacked on all sides like 
cordwood. The great laboratory was per¬ 
meated with their horrible stench. 

And Yah Hoon—may his foul soul 
burn in hell!—forced me to do these 
things. His beady eyes were always upon 
me. Hunched up in his great armchair 
by the side of the dissecting-table, he 
watched my progress day by day. He 
drove me. He knew that his life was fast 
ebbing away—that he was living on bor¬ 
rowed time—and he was ever in a rush 
to finish the task and stave off death be¬ 
fore it struck him down. There was a 
panicky look on his aged face at every 
failure. Under his direction I cut and 
experimented — wallowing like a hog 
amid the filth of the charnel-house. At 
his command I distilled, brewed, segre¬ 
gated and refined. He scarce allowed me 
time to eat and sleep. I became an autom¬ 
aton—a machine—my brain so dulled 
by loss of sleep that I worked in a trance. 

Yah Hoon ate little. There were no 
servants. From some unknown source 
he obtained provisions of a sort for my 
use, and I prepared my own simple 
meals. 

Guinea-pigs! The place teemed with 
them. Upon them we tried the results 
of our experiments, inoculating them 
with the virus we made. And the result 
was always the same—death. With each 
failure he pushed me the harder, forcing 
me on and on in his mad search for the 
germ that snuffed the divine spark, but 


GERMS OF DEATH 


333 


which, he believed, when properly pre¬ 
pared, would result in eternal life. 

Time after time it seemed that success 
was almost within our grasp. Once a 
guinea-pig we inoculated lived for hours. 
It was only by sheer force of will that 
Yah Hoon kept from toppling over in 
the excess of his joy. From somewhere 
his powerful thought brought a man 
through the door—a poor, slinking crea¬ 
ture of the dregs of Koko-Nur. He at¬ 
tempted to draw back when his terror- 
filled eyes fell upon the pile of dead. 
But Yah Hoon’s will held him. Slowly, 
reluctantly, like a man walking in his 
sleep, he advanced until he stood before 
us cringing and fawning like a mongrel 
dog. 

I leaped forward like a tiger that smells 
blood. I tried to hold myself back, but 
the urge was communicated to me by my 
master’s will. I had no control over my¬ 
self as I seized the frightened creature’s 
arm and, jabbing the needle to the hilt 
in the flabby flesh, shot home the plunger 
that injected into his throbbing veins the 
virus we had made. 

For a full sixty seconds the poor devil 
made no move. Then he gave a sudden 
shriek as the death vaccine struck his 
heart. He plunged forward and fell in 
a heap upon the smooth, stone floor. I 
turned my head to see how the guinea- 
pig fared. It, too, had died. 

Yah Hoon filled his pipe with fingers 
that trembled. 

"Another failure!” he snarled, apply¬ 
ing a lighted taper to the soothing weed. 
"Another failure—and my time is almost 
up. I feel it—sense it.” 

From that time on he worked me hard¬ 
er than ever. 

5 

T he time element was entirely lacking 
in my life in Koko-Nur. I was there 
for ten years. I learned this upon my re¬ 


turn when I checked through the files of 
the newspapers from the time of my 
"death” up to the present. Time existed 
for me only as a hazy, misty fantasma- 
goria of horrors, each one more dreadful 
than the preceding. There are great 
blanks in my memory. I recall only the 
highlights of what happened in that in¬ 
ferno of Yah Hoon’s. The details are 
missing. 

There was never a time during my 
stay there that I was not John Dolby. My 
thoughts were those of John Dolby. It 
was his brain that directed me in the final 
act of the tragedy, even though my body 
was that of Huang, the Tibetan. 

What caused me to attempt suicide? 
That is a question I am unable to answer. 
I only know that I ran amuck—that 
something in John Dolby’s brain finally 
snapped under the strain. A man tempo¬ 
rarily deranged can not be hypnotized, 
nor can an unconscious man become a 
hypnotist. There are but two solutions: 
either I was mad or Yah Hoon had suf¬ 
fered another stroke which, for the nonce, 
caused him to lose his mental hold over 
me. The preceding events are missing 
from my memory and, strive as I will, I 
can not recall them. 

I know that I found myself standing 
in the middle of the great laboratory. 
That is my first recollection of what hap¬ 
pened. Around me was the wreckage of 
the costly apparatus that Yah Hoon had 
accumulated through the years. 

We had completed an experiment a 
short time before. How long before I do 
not know, since, as I have already stated, 
I have no remembrance of details. The 
body of our latest victim—a pink-nosed 
guinea-pig—lay upon the table. Beside 
it was a cadaver from which we had ex¬ 
tracted the poison for the virus sealed in 
the test-tube almost at my elbow. 

The door opened and Yah Hoon hob¬ 
bled in. As his beady eyes viewed the 


334 


WEIRD TALES 


scene of destruction, he gave a gasp of 
astonishment. For the nonce I was free 
from his domination. The thought made 
me wild. I shrieked with maniacal laughter 
as I hurled a beaker at his snarling face. It 
crashed against the stone wall. Seizing 
the syringe, half filled with the vaccine 
we had made, I jabbed the needle into my 
arm and pressed the plunger home. 

The eyes of Yah Hoon danced around 
me. They dazzled me. I felt my senses 
slipping. My ears rang with the com¬ 
mand to desist. As well argue with the 
devil as with me just then. I believed 
that I was to die; I leaned against the 
stone dissecting-table and waited for 
death to strike. 

But instead of death came a renewal 
of life. We had succeeded at last. Some¬ 
thing—some one of the elements we had 
used—needed only time to develop. As 
the virus ranged through my veins a sense 
of exultation surged over me—a pecu¬ 
liar feeling of lightness. I seemed to be 
floating in midair. 

"At last!” Yah Hoon shouted gleefully, 
forgetting in seeing me still alive the de¬ 
struction I had wrought. "We have suc¬ 
ceeded! Life is for ever mine! Mine!” 

With his words came recollection again. 
The thought flashed over me that Yah 
Hoon would, after all these years, inherit 
eternal life—that he would be free to 
work his hellish will upon an unsus¬ 
pecting world. 

Already his palsied hand was stretched 
forth to seize the test-tube. I jerked it 
from him and hurled it to the floor. It 
broke into a thousand fragments. 

Yah Hoon shrieked. God, how he 
shrieked! It was the wail of a lost soul. 
A look of grim despair came into his 


face. For an instant he stood swaying; 
then the crutch dropped from his nerve¬ 
less grasp and he sprawled in a heap at 
my feet. The shock had killed him. 
Then recollection left me. 

H ow did I return to America? I do 
not know. I only know that I am 
here and that I am John Dolby. I did 
not die in Koko-Nur, nor did I die in 
that fall from the window ten years ago. 
I can never die. The virus I injected into 
my veins that mad day will force me to 
live for ever. I must spend an eternity 
behind the bars of this dreadful place.. . . 

Huang is with me again. He is stand¬ 
ing beside me as I write, reading each 
word as my pen puts it down. He whis¬ 
pers that I am wrong—that freedom is 
mine if I but claim it. He has told me 
the way. He waits to claim his body. . . . 

But the intellect never dies. Yah Hoon 
claimed. I do not understand it all. Why 
should Huang wish his mortal body, 
since he can live in it but a few short 
years, while his soul goes on and on? Why 
does something keep drawing me to the 
crypt in the mausoleum at Riverview 
Cemetery wherein the body of John 
Dolby lies? 

Huang bids me hasten. . . . 
***** 

NOTE: A Mongolian known as 
Huang, a patient in this institution, be¬ 
lieved to be a native of Tibet, committed 
suicide in his cell this morning by open¬ 
ing a vein in his wrist. The foregoing 
manuscript was found hidden beneath 
the blankets of his bunk. 

(Signed) ROBERT MONTGOMERY, 
Managing Officer, Stateville 
Hospital for the Insane. 



By OTIS ADELBERT KLINE 

A powerful weird-scientific story by a master of science-fiction—a 
swift-moving tale of piracy, and weird monsters 
on another planet 


The Story Thus Far 

R OBERT GRANDON, young Chi¬ 
cago clubman who had fought his 
** way to the throne of Reabon, 
nightiest empire of the planet Venus, 
was honeymooning on the sea-coast with 
lis beautiful young bride, Vernia, Princess 
of Reabon, when she was carried off by 
the Huitsenni, a hairless, toothless yellow 
race of buccaneers against which Grandon 
had previously formed a secret alliance 
with three other Venusian rulers. 

Grandon instantly set out in pursuit of 
the pirate fleet in a small fishing-boat, ac¬ 
companied by Kantar the Gunner, who 
was an expert with the Venusian machine- 
guns, known as torks and mattorks. 
they were captured by the buccaneers, but 


managed to escape in Huitsen, the hidden 
port of the pirates, and join forces with 
the Chispoks, a secret society opposed to 
piratical practises. With the help of the 
Chispoks, Grandon and Kantar were able 
to get into the royal palace, where Gran¬ 
don beheaded Yin Yin, the ruler. Kan¬ 
tar, who was supposed to rescue Vemia, 
carried off by mistake another captive 
princess, Narine, daughter of Ad of 
Tyrhana, one of Grandon’s allies. Vemia, 
meanwhile, was abducted by Heg, Rogo 
of the Ibbits, a race of fur-covered sav¬ 
ages inhabiting the antarctic wastes south 
of Huitsen. 

Kantar and Narine, with the help of the 
Chispoks, managed to escape from Huit¬ 
sen in a small boat. But they had not gone 


Tkis story beg^m in WEOtD TALES for November 


335 


336 


WEIRD TALES 


far when their mast was shot away by a 
pursuing pirate vessel. 

In the meantime, Grandon, who had 
heard Vernia’s cry as she was being car¬ 
ried off by Heg, followed and rescued 
her, killing the savage chieftain. They 
managed to escape his followers by riding 
away in a blizzard on the strange mounts 
of these people, huge beasts called zan- 
dars. They passed the night in a cave, 
but in the morning when they awoke, they 
discovered their riding-animals were gone. 
They separated to search for them, and 
Vernia was seized by a gigantic web¬ 
spinning scorpion which had previously 
captured their zandars. She was hung up 
in its web beside the monster’s cocoon, as 
food for its young. Shortly thereafter, 
one of the young scorpions broke out of 
the cocoon, and ambled toward her. 


CHAPTER 16 
ZINLO OF OLBA 

ITH its mast shot away, the little 
sailboat in which rode Kantar the 
Gunner, Narine of Tyrhana, and San 
Thoy, would not respond to the rudder, 
but came about and drifted broadside to 
the waves, rocking precariously, while 
mattork shells exploded all around it. The 
two pursuing pirate ships now bore down 
on the helpless boat. 

Despite the increased difficulty of aim¬ 
ing his weapon, occasioned by the erratic 
plunging of the little craft, the skilful 
gunner succeeded in shattering a few 
spars and damaging the rigging of one of 
their pursuers with his explosive bullets. 
But as the two ships drew closer, he 
ceased firing, knowing that in surrender 
now lay their only hope of life. Aban¬ 
doning his weapon, he hurried forward, 
where he found Narine still endeavoring 
to manage the other mattork. 


"Stop shooting,” he said, "or the pirates 
will blow us to pieces. They are bound to 
hit us when they get a little closer.” 

"I hope they do,” she replied as she 
fired another shot, which, on account of 
the rocking of the boat, went wide of the 
mark. "To me death is preferable to fall¬ 
ing again into their hands.” 

As if in answer to her wish a shell 
struck them aft, the next moment, com¬ 
pletely demolishing the stern. Kantar and 
Narine were both hurled against the 
cabin by the force of the concussion, and 
San Thoy shot from his steersman’s seat 
to a point on the deck quite near them. 
The hold filled almost instantly, and the 
boat plunged beneath the waves. 

As they went down, Kantar seized 
Narine’s wrist. A moment later they 
came up, struggling and sputtering in the 
water. 

"Let me go,” she demanded, as soon 
as she could get her breath. "I can take 
care of myself.” 

The gunner relinquished her wrist, and 
grinning maliciously, said: “Well, you 
had your wish. I hope you are enjoying 
the consequences.” 

Without replying, she turned and swam 
for a bit of wreckage larger than the 
others that bobbed around them. It had 
once been part of the after deck. Kantar 
looked around for San Thoy, and seeing 
him clinging to a heavy beam which could 
easily support him in the water, he leisure¬ 
ly followed Narine. The pirate ships 
ceased firing, and one of them was now 
only about three hundred yards distant. 

Swimming up beside the girl’s bit of 
wreckage, Kantar rested an arm upon it. 

"May I share this luxurious float with 
you?” he asked, smiling. 

"If you will try to be agreeable,” she 
answered. "But one more word of sar¬ 
casm and I’ll-” 



BUCCANEERS OF VENUS 


337 


"You’ll what?” 

"Duck you.” 

"Tty it.” 

She did, forcing his head, unresisting, 
under water. She held it there until she 
considered that his punishment had been 
sufficient, then removed her hand. But he 
didn’t come up. Instead, his face re¬ 
mained under water and he floated limply 
there beside the wreckage. She pulled his 
hair, but got no response. Alarmed, she 
moved closer and lifted his head from 
the water. 

The gunner, who had been shamming, 
peered at her beneath lowered lids—saw 
the consternation in her pretty face—saw 
her red lips so close to his. A maddening 
desire for them overcame him. 

"Kantar!” she cried. "Oh, what have 
I done?” 

Suddenly he swept her to him, crushed 
her lips to his. 

She trembled there in his embrace for 
a moment, then broke from him, her face 
scarlet. 

"You would dare!” she exclaimed. 
"Oh, you beast! You are worse than the 
Huitsenni, none of whom has ventured to 
so affront me.” 

"Narine,” he pleaded, "I love you. I 
must tell you this before I go to my death 
at the hands of those yellow pirates, for 
they will surely slay me after what I have 
done. Your lips drew me—twin lode- 
stones I could not resist. If you can not 
return my love, can you not at least for¬ 
give me?” 

Her look softened* "The pirates have 
lowered a boat,” she said, "so I must put 
maidenly modesty aside and answer you 
briefly and truthfully. I do love you, my 
brave gunner. I have loved you from the 
moment I first saw you, there in the cabin 
of the little fishing-boat. But even had I 
hope of life and freedom, I could never 
marry you.” 

W. T.—5 


"There is another man?” 

"Yes. My father. He would never con¬ 
sent.” 

"Perhaps he could be brought to rea¬ 
son.” 

"Impossible. You see my older sister 
disappointed him in his plans for a matri¬ 
monial alliance, and fell in love with 
another man. She won her point with 
him, but he will not be turned again from 
his purpose. Her disappointed lover has 
agreed to solace himself with me. My 
father will not give in so easily a second 
time. 

"But all this talk is futile. We are once 
more in the power of the Huitsenni, and 
only they may decide our fate. Here is the 
boat. Farewell, my gunner, and may 
Thorth guide and keep you.” 

"I’ll never give you up,” he cried. 

Yellow hands seized them, dragged 
them into the boat. Then Kantar sudden¬ 
ly saw what he had had no opportunity to 
see before. When the boat had gone 
down, Narine’s improvised cloak had 
floated from her. Later, all but her head, 
arms and shoulders had been under 
water. But now he observed that she wore 
the scarlet of royalty and on the golden 
plate which connected her two jeweled 
breast-shields he saw the insignia of an 
imperial princess of Tyrhana. All the 
hopes which her words had aroused died 
in his heart. For Kantar was but a com¬ 
mon soldier. His father had been an offi¬ 
cer in the Uxponian army, but without 
even the purple of nobility. 

Narine saw the despair in his eyes and 
guessed his thoughts. She smiled, a little 
wistful smile. 

"I understand, now,” said the gunner. 
Then he resolutely turned his head away, 
and meekly permitted his captors to bind 
his wrists. A moment later, San Thoy 
also was dragged out of the water. 


338 


WEIRD TALES 


S WIFTLY the rowers propelled the boat 
back to the ship. The prisoners were 
hoisted aboard. Narine was hurried away 
by the mojak of the vessel. And with kicks 
and cuffs, Kantar and San Thoy, bound 
hand and foot, were thrown into an evil¬ 
smelling room in the hold, quite similar to 
the one in which they had been confined 
with Grandon when first taken to Huit- 
sen. Immediately Kantar set about trying 
to loose the bonds of his companion. 

But his tedious labors were suddenly 
interrupted by an explosion which tore a 
hole in the planking above their heads. 
There followed the rapid booming of 
mattorks, the screaming of projectiles, and 
the almost continuous bursting of shells. 

"Our captors must have found new vic¬ 
tims,” said Kantar, springing to his feet. 

"Judging by the number of shells 
which are striking this ship, I would say 
that they are more likely to become the 
victims,” replied San Thoy, also getting 
to his feet. 

Both men hopped to the side of the 
boat—they could not walk because of their 
bound feet—and peered through the loop¬ 
holes. 

"Bones of Thorth!” exclaimed San 
Thoy. "There are ships floating in the 
air!” 

Looking out, Kantar saw a fleet of 
aerial battleships. They were shaped like 
duck-boats, surmounted by heavy trans¬ 
parent turrets mounting heavy mattorks, 
and flew without wings, rudders or pro¬ 
pellers. 

"They are Olban airships*,” he said. 
"I once saw a fleet of them in Reabon.” 

"Never before have I seen or heard of 
such marvellous craft above the Azpok,” 
said San Thoy. 

"It’s strange that they should be here. 

* The airships are levitated and projected by a 
mechanism which amplifies the power of telekinesis, 
that mysterious mind force which enables terrestrial 
mediums to lift and move tables and other pon¬ 
derable objects without physical contact. 


I wonder—ah! I have it. Zinlo, Torrogo 
of Olba, is the fiance of Loralie, the Tor- 
rogina of Tyrhana. Naturally he would, 
on being advised of the disappearance of 
her younger sister, assist in the search for 
her. And just as naturally, he would at¬ 
tack the ships of the Huitsenni, who are 
enemies to all Zorovia, wherever he 
should find them.” 

For several minutes the bombardment 
became more intense, and Kantar was 
much concerned for Narine’s safety. Then 
a huge shadow darkened the waters before 
them, the bombardment ceased, and there 
was the noise of grappling-hooks scraping 
across the splintered decks. These sounds 
were succeeded by the tramping of many 
feet above them, the clashing of arms in¬ 
termingled with the spitting of tork fire, 
and a medley of shouts, groans and 
shrieks. 

"The Olbans have boarded us,” said 
Kantar. "I trust that they arrive in time 
to save Narine.” 

The fighting was soon over. Presently 
the gunner heard the tramp of warriors, 
evidently searching the ship, passing their 
door. "Ho, Olbans,” he called, "open 
the door.” 

"Who is it?” a voice asked, cautiously. 

"A warrior of Reabon and a fellow 
prisoner,” he replied. 

The door was unbolted and flung open. 
Three Olban warriors, with the muzzles 
of their torks elevated, peered in, while 
a fourth flashed a light about the room. 
Seeing the two bound men, they entered 
and quickly released them. 

"Have they found the princess?” Kan¬ 
tar inquired, rubbing his numbed wrists. 
"Is she safe?” 

"What princess?” asked the soldier 
who had removed his bonds. "We know 
naught of a princess.” 

"Why 3 Narine, Torrogini of Tyrhana, 


BUCCANEERS OF VENUS 


339 


replied the gunner. "She was captured 
and brought aboard with us.” 

"Ha! It is as His Majesty suspected,” 
cried another soldier. "From a distance 
we saw them sink a small boat, and 
later lower a boat to bring away three 
people from the wreckage. Yet their 
mojak has stoutly denied that he had 
prisoners aboard. Come. The Torrogo 
must hear of this at once.” 

With the four Olbans, they hurried to 
the deck. A group of Huitsenni prisoners 
huddled, weaponless, in the stern, under 
the watchful eyes of several guards. 
Warriors were heaving the bodies of the 
slain overboard, and Olban surgeons were 
tending the wounded, both friend and 
foe. Attached to the side of the vessel by 
hooks and chains was an immense aerial 
battleship with twelve gun-turrets. A set 
of collapsible aluminum stairs led from 
an open door in one of these turrets to 
the deck of the ship. On the opposite side 
another aerial battleship was similarly 
fastened. A fleet of a dozen more airships 
floated overhead, and Kantar saw that the 
other pirate ship had also been boarded by 
the crews of two aerial battleships, and its 
men subdued. 

They hurried forward. On the fore¬ 
deck stood a handsome young man of 
about the gunner’s own age, whom Kan¬ 
tar instantly recognized as Zinlo, Torrogo 
of Olba. He was clad in scarlet apparel, 
gold-trimmed and glittering with precious 
stones. On his feet were sandals of soft 
frella hide, and his scarlet, turban-shaped 
headpiece was decked with gold fringe 
and set with a huge ruby that blazed 
above the center of his forehead. Beside 
him stood an equally youthful soldier, 
whose insignia proclaimed him Romojak 
of the Aerial Navies of Olba. 

On his knees before the young Torrogo 
was the mojak of the vessel. As Kantar 
came up with the others he was saying: 


"I swear to you, Majesty, by the beard 
and body of Thorth, by all I hold sacred, 
that I have no prisoners, white or yellow, 
on board.” 

"So. You persist in your falsehood.” 
Zinlo frowned at the yellow man who 
groveled before him. Then his eyes fell 
on Kantar and San Thoy. 

"Whom have we here?” he asked one 
of the warriors who had released them. 

The mojak looked around, and seeing 
who stood behind him, turned a pale, 
sickly yellow. 

"They are two prisoners we found in 
a room below the deck, Your Majesty,” 
replied the warrior. 

Kantar made obeisance, with right hand 
extended palm downward. 

"I am Kantar the Gunner, of Reabon, 
Your Majesty,” he said, "and my com¬ 
panion is San Thoy, a former mojak in 
the navy of Huitsen. If you don’t mind, 
I would prefer to tell you our story after 
Her Imperial Highness has been found.” 

"Her Imperial Highness?” 

"I refer, Your Majesty, to Narine, Tor- 
rogini of Tyrhana.” 

"Ha!” Zinlo suddenly whipped out his 
scarbo and presented its point to the breast 
of the frightened mojak. "Now, you yel¬ 
low hahoe, we have caught you lying. 
Either you will tell us, this instant, where 
the Princess is concealed, or I will slay 
you and if need be, tear this ship apart 
to And her.” 

"Mercy, Majesty! Have mercy!” qua¬ 
vered the mojak. "I will show you.” 

Rising, and backing away from the 
royal presence, he stooped and seized a 
ring in the deck. Pulling this, he lifted a 
trap-door from which a short ladder led 
down into a small cabin. Lying on the 
sleeping-shelf of the cabin was Narine, 
gagged, and bound hand and foot. 


340 


WEIRD TALES 


D isdaining the ladder, Kantar dropped 
into the cabin, closely followed by 
the young Torrogo. Together they 
quickly unbound the princess and re¬ 
moved her gag. She was limp, and ap¬ 
parently lifeless. 

"Narine! Narine!” For the moment 
Kantar, who had knelt beside the sleep¬ 
ing-shelf, forgot the presence of Zinlo of 
Olba—forgot that the girl before him 
was an imperial princess. 

Narine opened her eyes and saw Kan¬ 
tar bending over her. But Zinlo she did 
not see. Her right arm went around the 
gunner’s neck—her hand caressed his 
sandy hair. "I’m just a little faint, my 
gunner. That gag made breathing diffi¬ 
cult. I could not have lasted much 
longer.” 

He caught up her left hand, lying limp¬ 
ly beside her, and covered it with kisses. 
"I’m glad, so glad, we came in time.” 

"My lips, Gunner. Have they lost 
their allure so quickly?” She drew his 
face down to hers. 

Zinlo raised a quizzical eyebrow. 
Then, with a fierce gesture, he waved off 
the gaping warriors who were peering 
down at them. 

"I heard explosions—men fighting on 
the decks. Tell me what happened,” 
said Narine, a moment later. 

"His Imperial Majesty, Zinlo of Olba, 
rescued vs,” replied Kantar, suddenly re¬ 
membering the presence of the Torrogo, 
and blushing furiously in consequence. 

"What!” Narine sat up quickly, then, 
seeing Zinlo, turned to face him, her 
shapely legs dangling from the sleeping- 
shelf. 

"Your Majesty!” she cried in conster¬ 
nation. "I did not know you were here.” 

She rose and made the customary obei¬ 
sance. 

"I surmised as much, Your Highness,” 
smiled Zinlo. Then he took her extend¬ 


ed hand, and kneeling, raised it to his 
lips. "Shall we adjourn to more comfort¬ 
able quarters?” 

"Let’s. I’ve always wanted to ride in 
one of your Olban airships. What of my 
father and sister?" 

"Both well, but almost frantic with 
worry on account of you.” 

When they reached the deck, the young 
romojak, who had been standing beside 
Zinlo when Kantar first saw him, came 
up and saluted. 

"What is it, Lotar?” asked Zinlo. 

"We have disposed of all the prisoners 
in accordance with Your Majesty’s com¬ 
mands,” replied the romojak. "There re¬ 
mains, however, the yellow man we found 
imprisoned with this warrior of Reabon.” 

"Take him aboard the flagship,” said 
Zinlo, "and see that he has every com¬ 
fort.” 

Lotar saluted and withdrew. Then the 
three climbed the aluminum stairs, and 
after passing through a narrow hallway, 
entered the luxurious saloon of Zinlo’s 
flagship. The young Torrogo placed 
cushioned chairs for both of them, and 
summoned a slave. "Bring us kova,” he 
commanded. 

He drew up a chair and sat down. 
Then he noticed that Kantar, conform¬ 
ing to the usages of the court, had not 
seated himself because he was in the pres¬ 
ence of royalty. "Sit, Gunner,” he said. 
"We will have no formality here.” 

This was a command, and Kantar, 
whose feeling of embarrassment had 
only slightly lessened since the incident 
in the cabin, took the chair which had 
been placed for him. 

The slave bustled in with kova, and 
Zinlo himself served his guests in tiny 
bowls of gold lined with mother of pearl. 

"Now,” he said, "as soon as my romo¬ 
jak comes aboard, we’ll fly to the flagship 



BUCCANEERS OF VENUS 


341 


of Ad of Tryhana. But in the meantime, 
Your Highness, suppose you tell me what 
you have been doing these many days.” 

"My father’s flagship!” exclaimed Na¬ 
rine. "Where is he?” 

"Only a little way from here,” replied 
Zinlo, "and Loralie is with him. But 
let’s hear that story.” 

Swiftly, Narine sketched for him the 
story of her adventures—the storm, her 
capture by the Huitsenni, her sale to Heg 
and rescue by Kantar, and their escape 
with the aid of San Thoy. 

Zinlo frowned. "These yellow pirates 
must be wiped out,” he said, "and there 
is no better time than now to do it. But 
what of my friend Grandon and his beau¬ 
tiful bride?” he asked Kantar. "Do you 
think they were both carried off by the 
white-furred barbarians?” 

"I think it probable,” replied Kantar, 
"that Her Majesty was carried off by Heg. 
It is possible that the Ibbits also took 
Grandon prisoner, but I think it more 
probable that he found some way to fol¬ 
low the savages, in an effort to rescue his 
bride.” 

"I’ll send a squadron after them,” said 
Zinlo. "As I judge from what Her High¬ 
ness just told me that the capital of the 
furry Rogo is five days’ journey from 
Huitsen, my swift airships can easily over¬ 
take them before they reach their destina¬ 
tion.” 

At this moment, Lotar came in and 
saluted. 

"To the flagship of Ad of Tyrhana,” 
commanded Zinlo. "Signal the fleet to 
attend us. You have placed the prize 
crews aboard the two pirate vessels?” 

"Yes, Majesty.” He saluted and with¬ 
drew. 

A moment later the ship rose smoothly 
and swiftly to a height of about two thou¬ 
sand feet, then shot away toward the 


west at a tremendous speed. Kantar, who 
had never ridden in one of these craft 
before, but had heard that the swiftest 
ones were capable of traveling at the 
speed with which the planet revolved on 
its axis at the equator—approximately a 
thousand miles an hour—nevertheless 
marveled at the speed with which the 
ocean appeared to move beneath them as 
he watched through one of the side win¬ 
dows. Sailing on the waves of the Azpok 
he now saw six large battle fleets, all with¬ 
in a few miles of the spot where their 
little craft had been sunk by the Huit¬ 
senni. 

T he airship reached a point over the 
flagship of one of these fleets and 
swiftly descended. 

Narine placed a hand on Zinlo’s arm< 
"You won’t tell my father?” she asked. 

"About what?” Zinlo appeared puz¬ 
zled. 

She looked tenderly at Kantar. "About 
us. We know it is hopeless, our love, 

and have agreed to—to-” 

"Try to forget,” suggested Zinlo. 
"You’re so helpful, my brother to be. 
But there in the cabin, for the moment, 
love mastered us.” 

"I understand, perfectly,” said the 
young’ Torrogo. 

"Of course. You and Loralie-” 

"Exactly.” 

"But my father will not be moved from 
his purpose again. I know him well 
enough for that.” 

"Oh, I don’t know. What has been 
done before can be done again. Perhaps 
I can do something.” 

"You are so kind. Now I know why 
Loralie just can’t help loving you. But, 
for the present at least, you will say noth¬ 
ing.” 

"In that cabin, I was deaf, dumb and 


342 


.WEIRD TALES 


blind, as were my warriors who happened 
to be peering down at us. But here we 
are at the flagship.” 

Kantar heard the clank of chains and 
the thud of grappling-irons. Then Zinlo 
rose, and they followed him down the 
ladder to the deck of an immense battle¬ 
ship which flew the flag of Ad, Torrogo 
of Tyrhana. 

Just as they reached the deck, the gun¬ 
ner saw two people emerge from one of 
the cabins—a tall, straight, athletic-ap¬ 
pearing man about forty years of age, 
with a square-cut, jet-black beard, and a 
girl who closely resembled Narine, 
though she appeared a trifle more mature. 
Both wore the scarlet of royalty, and Kan¬ 
tar knew that they must be Ad of Tyrhana 
and his daughter, Loralie. 

Narine ran into the open arms of her 
father, then embraced her sister. All 
three shed tears of joy, and Kantar, whose 
own eyes were overflowing, saw that 
Zinlo was in like case. 

The gunner was presented, and all were 
ushered into Ad’s sumptuous cabin, where 
the customary kova was served. 

After Narine had related the story of 
her adventures, Kantar was pressed to tell 
his, and those of Grandon and Vemia 
with which he was acquainted. 

When the gunner had finished, Ad 
echoed the previously expressed senti¬ 
ment of Zinlo. "We must wipe out the 
Huitsenni,” he declared. "But first we 
must try to rescue Their Majesties of 
Reabon.” 

"I’m going to send a squadron after the 
Ibbits,” said Zinlo. 

"But suppose Grandon and his bride 
are still in Huitsen.” 

"I believe we can ascertain whether or 
not they are there,” said Kantar. 

"How?” asked Ad. 

"The Chispoks. There must be some 
members among the pirates you have cap¬ 


tured. Land some of them near the city 
under cover of darkness. Let them in¬ 
vestigate, and report back to you.” 

"A splendid idea,” said Zinlo, "And 
I would suggest a further plan. Suppose 
we form an alliance with the Chispoks, 
overthrow the present regime, if indeed 
they have not done so already, and put 
them in power. That would be better 
than indiscriminately wiping out the en¬ 
tire yellow race, all of whom are certainly 
not responsible for the piratical outrages 
of Yin Yin’s men. The port of Huitsen 
could then be opened for peaceful trade 
with all Zorovia, and if the Huitsenni 
should ever again develop piratical lean¬ 
ings, we would know how to stop them.” 

"I’m sure the alliance can be arranged, 
Your Majesty,” said Kantar. "Suppose 
we send for San Thoy.” 

Zinlo called a servant. "Tell my romo- 
jak to bring San Thoy, the yellow man, 
here,” he directed. 

I N A few moments Lotar came in, ac¬ 
companied by San Thoy. Kantar pre¬ 
sented the former mojak of the navy of 
Huitsen to the assemblage. Then Zinlo 
addressed Lotar. Briefly he told him why 
they suspected that Grandon and Vernia 
might be traveling southward with a party 
of Ibbits, and gave him his instructions: 
"Dispatch six ships,” he commanded, 
"with orders to fly high above Huitsen, 
deep enough in the first cloud stratum so 
they will not be seen from that city. Then, 
when they have their bearings, let them 
spread out, and fly southward until they 
come to a column of furry white savages 
riding on three-homed beasts. If Gran¬ 
don of Terra and his bride are with this 
party they must rescue them as best they 
can, and bring them here at once.” 

Lotar saluted. "I hasten to carry out 
Your Majesty’s commands,” he replied, 
and hurried out. 


BUCCANEERS OF VENUS 


343 


As soon as Lotar had gone, San Thoy was 
quizzed about a possible alliance with the 
Chispoks. He not only felt positive that 
he could arrange this, but stated that he 
had received secret signs from several of 
the yellow sailors on board the vessel from 
which he had been rescued, which proved 
to him that they were members of the 
brotherhood. After a short conference, 
he was dispatched in one of Zinlo’s air¬ 
ships to visit both captured pirate vessels 
and cull the Chispoks from among the 
prisoners. 

"What of our allies?” Zinlo asked Ad, 
after San Thoy had departed. "Shall we 
let them help in the assault on Huitsen?” 

Ad stroked his black beard thoughtful¬ 
ly. "Hum. Let’s see. We have two 
squadrons here, of our own. Lying near 
by are two from Adonijar, and a little 
farther away, two from Reabon.” 

"In addition to their battleships, the 
Reabonians have two-score transports, and 
as many munition ships, with a large army 
and munitions and equipment for a land 
offensive,” said Zinlo. 

”1 was thinking of that,” said Ad. 
"How or where could they land their 
army?” 

"The Chispoks know a secret way,” 
said Kantar. "San Thoy or one of his 
fellows could guide them.” 

"Splendid. We can now plan a united 
offensive. The Reabonians will disem¬ 
bark at night, and guided by the Chispoks, 
will march on Huitsen, prepared for an 
offensive tomorrow at an hour we shall 
set. You, Zinlo, will mass your aerial 
battleships above the city to join in the 
attack at the same time, and to convey 
signals from one force to another. Mean¬ 
while, the battleships of Tyrhana, Adoni¬ 
jar and Reabon must find some way to get 
through the secret entrance.” 

"I’ve thought of a plan for that, also. 
Your Majesty,” said Kantar. 


' 'Good. Let me hear it, my boy.” 

And so Kantar related to them a plan 
he had conceived on the spur of the mo¬ 
ment, whereby he believed they could not 
only get the gates opened for them, but 
keep them open for the entrance of the 
battle fleets of the three great nations. 

CHAPTER 17 
THE DEATH SENTENCE 

ome time after Grandon and Vemia 
separated at the mouth of the cave to 
look for their riding-beasts which had 
disappeared, and which they believed had 
strayed in search of food, there came 
faintly to the ears of the Earth-man a 
sound that caused him to stop, whirl 
around, and listen intently. So slight 
was the sound that he could not quite 
make it out, yet it had a quality which 
made him suspicious that Vernia had 
called him. Though he strained his ears 
to catch a possible repetition, none was 
audible. 

Alarmed, he retraced his steps as 
swiftly as possible, but the soft, newly 
fallen snow retarded his progress consid¬ 
erably. Fuming impatiently at the delay, 
he floundered past the mouth of the cave 
in which they had passed the night and 
anxiously took up Vernia’s trail, shouting 
her name as he went. But there was no 
reply. 

The tracks led him close to the irreg¬ 
ular base of the cliff, and as Grandon 
stumbled around a bend, he saw the same 
sight which Vemia had beheld only a 
short time before, and which had led to 
her entrapment—a bristly white and green 
object curving outward from behind a 
projection, which looked like a segment of 
Zorovian cactus. Like her, he thought it 
part of some antarctic plant, and proceed¬ 
ed incautiously toward it. He came to a 
sudden pause, however, and presented the 


344 


WEIRD TALES 


spiral point of bis lance, as the apparent 
segment resolved itself into one of the 
chelae of an immense white scorpion, 
which shot out from behind the projection 
and charged swiftly toward him. 

Pointing his lance, Grandon pulled back 
the lever which set the spiral head to 
whirling. Fearlessly, and without swerv¬ 
ing or endeavoring to evade the weapon, 
the monster sprang at the Earth-man with 
its immense pincers extended to seize him. 
Right in the thorax the lance-point struck, 
and bored in up to the knob. Grandon 
was thrown backward by the impact of 
that charge, but by diverting the butt of 
his lance downward and plunging it 
through the snow until it struck the frozen 
ground beneath, was able to hold the 
scorpion away from him. 

Then, still clinging to the shaft with 
his left hand, he drew his scarbo with his 
right and struck at the nearest chela. It 
was quite tough and homy, and the blade 
did not bite more than half-way through 
it. Clenching his teeth, he struck again 
with all his strength, and this time suc¬ 
ceeded in severing it near the middle. 
Having mastered the art of it, he was able 
to cut off the other claw at the first joint 
with two sharp blows. 

But no sooner had these menaces been 
removed than he was threatened with 
another, even more dangerous. With 
lightning swiftness, the monster suddenly 
elevated its long, jointed tail, and stabbed 
at him with the terrible telson with which 
the tip was armed. 

Avoiding the deadly thrust of the poi¬ 
son sting by leaning sideways, Grandon 
hacked at the thing with his scarbo. To 
his surprize, it was quite brittle, and broke 
off with the first blow. 

Although the monster was now unable 
to injure him except at very close quar¬ 
ters, it was not without resource. It sud¬ 


denly reached beneath its abdomen with 
its foremost pair of hairy legs, and draw¬ 
ing therefrom a section of gleaming, 
sticky web as thick as a rope, it cast a loop 
about him and dragged him forward. He 
clung to the lance-shaft with all his might, 
and succeeded in severing the sticky loop 
with a stroke of his scarbo. Not so a sec¬ 
ond loop, however, which it unexpected¬ 
ly flung around him, breaking his hold 
on the shaft, as it jerked him toward its 
ugly gaping mandibles with his right 
arm bound to his side. 

He had previously refrained from 
using his tork for fear the sound would 
bring enemies, but in this extremity he 
elevated the muzzle, depressed the firing- 
button, and sent a stream of bullets 
straight into the gaping jaws. With muf¬ 
fled detonations, the projectiles exploded 
in the huge, armored body. A half-dozen 
of them sufficed to blow the hard-shelled 
cephalothorax to bits, and reduced the 
segmented abdomen to a shapeless quiver¬ 
ing mass. 

Quickly shifting his scarbo to his left 
hand, Grandon cut himself free of the 
sticky loop that encumbered him. Then, 
perceiving the yawning cave mouth, and 
suspecting that it was here that Vernia 
had been taken, he rushed inside. Despite 
their wrappings, he was able to identify 
the two zandars, one hanging in the cen¬ 
ter of the huge web, the other at the edge 
beside a large spherical cocoon. But what 
was that smaller object beside the cocoon? 
His heart stood still as he recognized the 
slender form of Vernia, and saw that a 
young scorpion, which had evidently just 
emerged from the cocoon, was crawling 
toward her. 

Although the newly hatched monster 
was not more than six feet from Vernia, 
and he could not shoot without endanger¬ 
ing her, he knew that there was nothing 


BUCCANEERS OF VENUS 


345 


else to do. Accordingly, he brought his 
tork to bear on the hairy youngster, and 
fired. There was a muffled explosion, 
and the menace was removed. But now 
he saw another pair of chelae emerging 
from the cocoon. Again he fired, and the 
second young scorpion was blown to bits. 
He watched for a moment, but as no more 
appeared, decided that the other eggs had 
not yet hatched, and set about trying to 
find a way to climb to where Vcrnia was 
suspended. 

The stickiness of the web made this al¬ 
most impossible, until he thought to util¬ 
ize the dust and debris which littered the 
floor. Catching this up in double hand¬ 
fuls, he flung it against the section of the 
web which he wished to climb, and found, 
as he had hoped, that it prevented the ad¬ 
hesive surface of the strands from cling¬ 
ing to his hands and feet. 

Swiftly he climbed up to Vernia, cut 
the surrounding strands, and as swiftly 
descended to the floor with his burden. 
With his knife he quickly slit open the 
wrappings and found his wife, limp, and 
apparently lifeless. He opened her great 
fur cloak, and the sight of several scratch¬ 
es on her white skin engendered the fear 
that she had been poisoned by the venom 
of the monster. But when he held his 
ear to her breast, he was relieved to hear 
her heart beating. 

With a handful of snow taken from the 
cave mouth, he touched her temples. The 
cold shock revived her. She looked 
about wildly for a moment; then, recog¬ 
nizing Grandon, she relaxed contentedly 
in his arms. 

"Are you hurt, dear?” he asked. 

"Only a few scratches. Bob,” she re¬ 
plied. "It was the fright that made me 
swoon. When I saw that young strid 
coming toward me, as I hung there help¬ 
less, and realized that its purpose was to 


devour me, I fainted. Let me rest for a 
little while, and I’ll be ready to walk.” 

"Perhaps you won’t need to walk,” 
said Grandon. "One zandar appears to 
be alive. I’ll see if I can cut it down.” 

Utilizing the dust as he had done be¬ 
fore, Grandon succeeded in making a 
path up the web for himself to where the 
zandar hung beside the immense cocoon. 
With his scarbo he first cut the heavy, 
rope-like strands above it. Then, as the 
great bulk of the beast swung downward, 
he cut the cross strands in succession, and 
with each cut, the zandar descended a 
little further. When at last the beast was 
on the floor, it was still helpless because 
of the thorough manner in which it had 
been trussed. But its heaving flanks 
showed that it was still very much alive 
and not a little frightened by the expe¬ 
rience it had just gone through. Employ¬ 
ing his knife, Grandon quickly cut the 
strands which held it, and it struggled to 
its feet, trembling and panting heavily. 

"It seems unhurt,” said Vernia, who 
had recovered from her faintness and 
come over to watch the proceedings. 

"Its legs are sound, at any rate,” re¬ 
plied Grandon. 

T he beast followed them docilely 
enough through the mouth of the 
cave. Then, after helping Vernia into the 
saddle, Grandon returned for a moment, 
to apply his flame-maker to the bottom of 
the web. It caught fire with a roar, and 
he plunged out of the cave followed by a 
billowing cloud of black, oily smoke. 

"That will do for the rest of the ugly 
brood,” he said as he came up beside 
Vernia. 

He was about to mount behind her, 
when he suddenly saw, riding swiftly 
toward them, a large band of warriors 
mounted on zandars. They were not Ib- 
bits, as he could see at a glance, but Huit- 


346 


WEIRD TALES 


senni, and had evidently heard his tork 
fire and come to investigate. Instantly 
the riders deployed in a wide semicircle, 
cutting off all possibility of escape across 
the snow. As they could not climb the 
sheer face of the cliff behind them, nor 
retire into the cave, which was now belch¬ 
ing great clouds of acrid smoke, they re¬ 
mained where they were, Vernia still in 
the saddle and Grandon beside her. 

Had he been alone, Grandon would 
have resisted desperately, but he knew 
that if he should use his tork the enemy 
would retaliate in kind, and Vernia might 
be injured or slain. A moment more, and 
he was looking into the mouths of fully 
a hundred torks leveled at him by a close¬ 
ly packed semicircle of riders. Then the 
mojak in command ordered a halt, and 
called out to Grandon: "Surrender, in 
the name of the Rogo of Huitsen, or we 
fire.” 

Seeing that resistance was useless, 
Grandon unbuckled the belt which con¬ 
tained his weapons and flung it on the 
snow in front of him. Then he clasped 
his hands behind his head in token of sur¬ 
render. 

At the order of the mojak, two men de¬ 
scended and swiftly bound him, hand and 
foot. Then he was slung across the sad¬ 
dle-bow of one of the riders as if he had 
been a sack of grain, and the cavalcade 
rode away. Vernia was not bound but 
was permitted to retain her place in the 
saddle with a guard on each side of her. 

Several hours later it seemed to Gran¬ 
don that all of Huitsen had turned out to 
stare at the two prisoners that their rid¬ 
ers were bringing in, so dense were the 
crowds along the streets. Their captors 
took them straight to the palace, where 
they were deprived of their Ibbit furs, 
which were not needed here in the warm 
lowlands. Then the mojak, quite obvious¬ 
ly proud of his success, led them to the 


throne room, each guarded by two of his 
warriors. 

Up to the time they were ushered into 
that vast room, Grandon had entertained 
the hope that one of tire Chispoks had 
succeeded Yin Yin, but his hopes were 
dashed as he recognized the individual 
who squatted in the center of the crystal 
throne. It was the bestial Thid Yet, 
former Romojak of the Navies of Huit¬ 
sen. Like his predecessor, he was sur¬ 
rounded by numerous attendants and 
nobles, and his gross body was loaded 
with flashing jewels. The porcine mon¬ 
arch grinned toothlessly as they were 
brought before him. 

"It is apparent that our men have per¬ 
suaded Your Majesties to avail yourselves 
once more of our cordial if humble hos¬ 
pitality,” he said. "We are honored.” 

"Your Majesty’s warriors have persua¬ 
sive ways,” replied Grandon. "Perhaps, 
now that you are Rogo, we can persuade 
you to permit us to depart to our own tor- 
rogat, where duty calls us.” 

"Perhaps,” replied Thid Yet, dipping 
his thumb into a spore-pod which one of 
the former slave-girls of Yin Yin present¬ 
ed, and thrusting the red spores into his 
fat cheek. "Just what is your proposi¬ 
tion?” 

"Say, a million keds of gold.” 

"Humph! We are offered more for Her 
Majesty alone.” 

"Two million.” 

"Not enough.” 

Thre e — — 

"Wait,” interrupted Thid Yet. "You 
but waste your breath. Her Majesty will 
remain here as was previously arranged, 
until it is time to take her to the rendez¬ 
vous. Though she has been deprived of 
the pleasure of Yin Yin’s company, we 
trust that we will make a satisfactory sub¬ 
stitute.” 


BUCCANEERS OF VENUS 


347 


"Why you--1” Grandon would 

have sprung at the throat of die man on 
the throne had he not been seized by the 
guards. 

"One moment, Majesty. Permit me to 
finish. We are grieved that we can not 
entirely comply with your request, yet we 
will in part fulfill it.” 

“In part?” 

"Yes. We will permit you to leave, 
but not for your own country. Although 
you left no witnesses, we have consider¬ 
able evidence that it was you who behead¬ 
ed our just and generous predecessor. We 
also remember that it was due to you that 
we nearly lost our own head. So we will 
allow you to leave—will, in fact, speed 
you on your way, for it would be danger¬ 
ous to have you near us. But instead of 
sending you to your own torrogat, we will 
dispatch you to the Kingdom of Thorth.*” 

He beckoned to one of the two brawny 
guards who stood behind the throne 
leaning on their immense two-handed 
scarbos. "Come, Ez Ben. Clip me the 
head from this fine fellow, and see that 
you cut it cleanly, as I would retain it 
for a souvenir.” 

Swinging his heavy scarbo to his shoul¬ 
der, the headsman mardhed forward. 
Grandon’s two guards quickly forced him 
to his knees. Ez Bin took a position be¬ 
side him, tested the keenness of his blade 
with his thumb, and carefully measured 
the distance and position of Grandon’s 
neck, closing one eye and squinting the 
other. Then, with the swift assurance of 
an expert, he raised his blade. 

Vernia, who had been watching the 
scene, too horrified even to utter a sound, 
covered her eyes with her hands. Then 
she suddenly went limp in the hands of 
her two guards. 

• Heaven, 


CHAPTER 18 
THE ALLIES ATTACK 

I N the flagship of Zinlo of Olba rode 
Kantar the Gunner and Narine, look¬ 
ing down at the city of Huitsen through 
several feet of the lowest cloud stratum. 
The ship was flying in this stratum that 
it might remain invisible to the Huitsenni 
in the streets below, yet be able to keep 
watch. The offensive which the allies had 
planned the day before was now sched¬ 
uled to take place. 

Ten thousand of Reabon’s brave war¬ 
riors, guided by the Chispoks that San 
Thoy had selected, were converging on 
the city in an immense semicircle, and 
five thousand more, a contingent of 
Reabonian artillery, had their mattorks 
ready to make breaches in the walls and 
lay a barrage in front of the infantry as 
soon as the charge should commence or 
the enemy discover their presence. 

Zinlo, who had been looking over the 
scene with his glass, said: "I wonder what 
has become of San Thoy and the two 
pirate vessels he was so positive he could 
bring through the gate. I see no sign of 
them in the canal. And our fleets still 
ride at anchor outside, waiting for our 
signal.” 

"Perhaps we should fly down and in¬ 
vestigate,” suggested Narine, 

"Hardly,” replied Kantar. "They 
would be sure to see us and precipitate a 
battle before we are ready.” 

"There’s nothing to do but wait,” said 
Zinlo, impatiently. 

M eanwhile San Thoy, standing in 
the commander’s cabin of the fore¬ 
most of the two ships which had been 
converted to the purpose of the allies, its 
crew augmented by a band of Reabonian 
warriors who kept out of sight below 
decks, and which was just then entering 


348 


WEIRD TALES 


the fiord which led to Huitsen, was issu¬ 
ing swift orders to the mojak of the vessel. 
"Put three men on each oar,” he com¬ 
manded. "The steel bar which we are to 
drop between the stone gates to prevent 
their closing after us, is dragging on the 
bottom.” 

"Can we not raise it a trifle?” asked the 
mojak. 

"No, idiot. The guardians are already 
watching us. To touch those chains now 
would make them suspicious. Do as I 
say, and quickly, for the time for the of¬ 
fensive is almost at hand.” 

Under the added propulsion of the ex¬ 
tra rowers, the boat moved slowly for¬ 
ward, dragging the heavy steel bar which 
the smiths of the fleet of Reabon had 
forged especially for this occasion by 
working all the previous night. Behind it 
came the second pirate ship, manned like 
the first by Chispoks culled from the two 
crews and a concealed contingent of 
Reabonian warriors. Its mojak, puzzled by 
the slow progress of the ship ahead, or¬ 
dered his rowers to back water and wait 
until a suitable distance should be estab¬ 
lished between the two ships. 

As San Thoy’s vessel approached the 
massive stone gates, they did not open. 
Instead, there came a hail from one of 
the guardians. 

"What ails you? Why do you move so 
slowly?” 

"We were crippled in a battle with the 
Reabonian fleet,” replied San Thoy. 
“Our hold is filling with water. Let us 
through quickly or we will sink and block 
the channel.” 

There was some delay. Evidently the 
guardians were not entirely satisfied with 
San Thoy’s explanation. The mojak 
knew that they were being subjected to 
minute scrutiny from above. 

"Fools!” he cried, at length. "Open 
the gate or the channel will be closed to 


all our ships. We are sinking rapidly. 
Besides, the enemy follows closely. 
Would you have them find us here?” 

Evidently his words, or the fact that 
their rigging and upper works were dam¬ 
aged by shell-fire, decided the guardians, 
for the gates slowly slid apart. 

San Thoy snapped an order to the row¬ 
ers. “Pull, men, with all your might.” 

The channel was quite shallow here, 
and the bar dragged heavily, but the men 
worked with a will. Soon the boat was 
half through the gateway. "Now,” com¬ 
manded San Thoy, "let go the bar.” 

The chains were released, and struck 
the water with a loud splash. 

"Ho, sailors. What was that you 
dropped?” one of the guards shouted 
from above. 

Freed from the heavy drag of the bar, 
the ship shot forward under the exertions 
of the rowers. At the same time, its mat- 
torks were trained on the grotto above, 
where the guards manipulated the ma¬ 
chinery that worked the gates and kept 
watch for ships. Without replying to the 
question of the guard, the Chispoks 
opened fire. 

The guards were sheltered behind a 
wall of stone, and in addition, were 
armed with mattorks. These instantly 
went into action, replying to the guns of 
San Thoy’s ship and riddling her upper 
works with shells. 

The second ship had, meanwhile, come 
up more slowly. Warriors clung to her 
masts and rigging. As she came half-way 
through the gate, she dropped anchor. 
The men in the rigging flung grappling- 
hooks up over the walls, and swarmed up 
the ropes. Many were hurled back, but 
enough succeeded in getting over to 
quickly conquer the guards. Then a mojo 
with twenty men took charge of the gate, 
and the two ships passed on through the 
immense black cavern. 


BUCCANEERS OF VENUS 


349 


Swiftly San Thoy ran to the foredeck 
of his craft With an immense brush and 
a can of red pigment, he painted the 
word "open” in patoa, so it could be seen 
from the air. A moment later his craft 
nosed out into the canal. He dropped 
anchor about five hundred feet from the 
mouth of the cave and waited. Presently 
the other ship came up and anchored be¬ 
hind him. 

A mojak with a company of warriors, 
whose duty it was to patrol the canal 
bank, came hurrying up and hailed him. 

"What was the firing?” he asked. 

"We were pursued by the Reabon- 
ians,” San Thoy replied. "They nearly 
had us. We just got through the gates in 
time.” 

"But did they not see the gates? Per¬ 
haps the secret way is not known to 
them.” 

"Perhaps,” agreed San Thoy. 

"You have lied to me,” accused the 
mojak. "That firing was inside the 
cave.” 

"Go and see for yourself,” suggested 
San Thoy. 

"I will. Let me take a boat.” 

"Not you. You are too uncivil.” 

"Then I’ll take one by force.” 

"Try it.” San Thoy waved his hand, 
and fully two-score mattorks were trained 
on the mojak and his warriors. At this, 
the officer turned and whispered to a fat 
mojo who stood beside him. The fellow 
evidently counseled retreat, for they 
turned and marched away, leaving only a 
dozen men to watch the ships. 

"They go to warn the city,” said San 
Thoy’s mojo. 

'What odds?” replied San Thoy. "The 
romojak will order an investigation. A 
body of troops will be mobilized and 
marched back here. By that time our al¬ 
lies will have arrived, and the Reabonian 
army will be storming the city. Zinlo 


must have seen our signal, long since, and 
notified the fleets of Reabon, Tyrhana 
and Adonijar.” 

Z inlo, in his aerial battleship, had or¬ 
dered his commander to soar to the 
southeast of the city of Huitsen. They 
were hovering just above the ship canal. 
Kantar and Narine were watching the 
landscape below through one of the keel 
windows. 

"Look!” cried Narine. "A ship is 
coming out of the cave.” 

Zinlo, who had been consulting with 
Lotar, seized his glasses and leveled them 
on the ship. 

"It’s San Thoy,” he announced, "and 
the way is open. To the flagship of Ad, 
Lotar.” 

The ship shot forward with a tremen¬ 
dous burst of speed. In less than a min¬ 
ute it was far out over the Azpok, where 
the ships of the allies waited. The fore¬ 
most of these was the flagship of Ad of 
Tyrhana. 

With a swiftness that made Kantar’s 
ears ring, the airship dropped. It came 
to a stop beside Ad’s flagship as lightly as 
if it had fallen into a bed of thistledown. 

Zinlo opened a side door. Not twenty 
feet from him, Ad stood on the foredeck 
of his fighting-craft. 

"The way is open,” announced the 
Prince of Olba. 

"Good! I’ll see you in the palace of 
Huitsen,” replied Ad. Then he waved 
his hand to a sailor, who instantly ran & 
pennant to the masthead. Almost imme¬ 
diately, similar flags were hoisted by the 
other ships, showing that they had caught 
the signal. Then the sails were unfurled, 
and with the assistance of a swift land¬ 
ward breeze, the allied flotillas rapidly 
made their way toward the secret entrance 
to Huitsen. 

Once more the flagship of Zinlo darted 


350 


WEIRD TALES 


back above the city, this time just over the 
lowest cloud stratum. Kere the air fleet 
of Olba hovered, waiting orders. The 
Torrogo’s signal man stood forth on the 
deck just in front of the forward turret. 
In his right hand he held an immense 
red disk, and in his left, a yellow. He 
began making motions withrone, then the 
other, then both, repeating them in nu¬ 
merous combinations which were evident¬ 
ly understood by the mojaks of the other 
battleships, as they immediately moved 
from their places and formed an immense 
circle which corresponded to the circum¬ 
ference of the city beneath. There they 
hovered, awaiting further orders. 

Zinlo’s own ship dropped once more 
into the lowest cloud stratum, high 
enough to be out of sight, but low enough 
so that he could watch developments. 
Presently another ship dropped down be¬ 
side him. He opened a side door, and 
the commander of the ship did likewise. 

"What news?” asked Zinlo. 

"We caught up with the column of 
Ibbits, Your Majesty,” replied the mojak. 
"Their Majesties of Reabon were not 
with them. The officer in command 
swore that Grandon of Terra had slain 
their Rogo and ridden away with his 
wife. He said they would have followed, 
but a blizzard obliterated the trail, so they 
decided to continue southward, bearing 
the body of their Rogo.” 

"Then what did you do?” 

"We circled the snowy plain in all di¬ 
rections, and presently found a trail. 
From the tracks and the kerra juice which 
spattered the snow, we knew it was the 
trail of a party of Huitsenni, mounted on 
zandars. It led us to the mouth of a cave, 
before which an enormous white strid lay 
dead. Inside the cave we found the smol¬ 
dering remains of a web, the charred car¬ 
casses of three young strids, and a num¬ 
ber of charred eggs. 


"On coming out, however, we noticed 
and followed another trail, which led 
from a near-by cave. It was the trail of 
a man and woman. They had not re¬ 
turned to the cave from which they had 
come, neither were their remains in the 
cave of the strid; so we judged they had 
been captured by the party of mounted 
Huitsenni. The fact that the return trail 
of the yellow men led straight back to the 
city confirmed our belief.” 

"You have done well,” said Zinlo. 
"Now take your squadron and get into 
the formation above. I’ll signal you when 
to descend." He closed the door. 

Kantar, who had been listening to the 
conversation, said: "Your Majesty, I 
have a favor to ask.” 

"Name it,” replied Zinlo. "You will 
deserve any favor within my power to 
confer.” 

"I would be set on one of the balco¬ 
nies of the palace of Huitsen, with two 
men to assist me.” 

"Impossible,” replied Zinlo. "Our 
plans would be betrayed, and we would 
lose every advantage which a surprize at¬ 
tack would bring us.” 

"I am convinced. Majesty,” said Kan¬ 
tar, "that Their Majesties of Reabon are 
prisoners in the palace. Grandon of 
Terra slew Yin Yin, Rogo of Huitsen. 
Under the circumstances, Yin Yin’s suc¬ 
cessor can not do less than order his execu¬ 
tion. Perhaps he has already done so, in 
which event I shall be too late. But I 
would be there to prevent it, if I can.” 

"What could three men do?” 

"If I could reach one of the inner bal¬ 
conies that overlook the throne room, 
with a man or two to guard my back and 
a tork in my hands, I could do much.” 

"You are right, Gunner. A tork in 
your hands is worth a hundred in the 
hands of ordinary men. And, after all, 
we’re more anxious to save Grandon and 


BUCCANEERS OF VENUS 


351 


Vemia than to take the city.” He called 
to Lotar. "Send me two warriors. Then 
you will drop suddenly beside one of the 
outer balconies of the palace. As soon as 
the warriors have disembarked, you will 
swiftly return to this position.” 

"I hear and obey,” replied Lotar. 

Zinlo’s orders were swiftly carried out. 

Kantar bent over Narine’s hand, but 
she snatched it free, and threw her arms 
around his neck. 

"It may be that you go to your death, 
my brave gunner," she cried. "Hold me 
tight. Tell me again that you love me.” 

Zinlo halted the two warriors in the 
doorway. Then he coughed discreetly. 

"We have arrived at the palace, Gun¬ 
ner. Come quickly, or we shall be shot 
down.” 

A side door was flung open. Her eyes 
sparkling with love and pride, Narine 
watched Kantar and the two warriors 
leap to the balcony. Then the door was 
closed, and before a single enemy mat- 
tork could be trained on it, the ship shot 
aloft and disappeared in the clouds. 

Hovering there in the lower cloud 
stratum, Zinlo kept his glasses focused on 
the canal. Presently he cried: "There is 
Ad’s flagship. Another follows, and 
another. It is time for the offensive.” 

He turned and gave swift orders to 
Lotar. The flagship rose above the first 
cloud stratum where the fleet waited, still 
in circular formation. The signal man 
flashed his red and yellow disks. Then 
Zinlo’s ship took a place in the circle and 
began spiraling downward. Behind it 
followed the entire air fleet. 

As soon as the flagship was through 
the lower cloud stratum, its keel mattorks 
went into action. The mattorks of the 
fleet instantly followed suit. There was 
a burst of flame from the ground beneath 
them as the Reabonian artillery opened 


fire, and great breaches began appearing 
in the city walls. 

Then a long shout went up, and the 
long line of Reabonian infantry, whidi 
had been waiting in hiding, sprang for¬ 
ward, the light glinting from the barrels 
of its torks, and from its scarbos and long- 
bladed spears. 

The drip canal was now filled with 
enemy vessels, following one another in 
close formation. Entering the land¬ 
locked harbor were the two captured pi¬ 
rate vessels—the first commanded by San 
Thoy. 

The vessels which were anchored in the 
harbor immediately opened fire, concen¬ 
trating on these two ships. San Thoy’s 
vessel was riddled by shell-fire and began 
to sink rapidly. He instantly ran it up 
beside an anchored vessel, and leading 
his mixed crew of white and yellow war¬ 
riors, boarded the new craft. Only a few 
sailors were aboard, and these were quick¬ 
ly cut down. 

I N the meantime, tire mighty flagship of 
Ad of Tyrhana had nosed into the har¬ 
bor. The withering blasts from its heavy 
mattorks literally blew some of the small¬ 
er pirate craft out of the water, and 
wrought havoc with the larger vessels. 

It was closely followed by the huge 
flagships of Reabon and Adonijar, whose 
powerful mattorks were equally efficient. 
And close on the heels of these crowded 
the battleships of the allied fleet. 

One by one, every pirate vessel that of¬ 
fered resistance was sunk or captured. 
Soon the allies were in complete com¬ 
mand of the harbor. This accomplished, 
they landed warriors under cover of a 
heavy barrage, took the docks and ware¬ 
houses with virtually no resistance, and 
marched into the city. 

In the meantime, the Reabonian infan¬ 
try was meeting with desperate resistance 


352 


WEIRD TALES 


around the city walls. Time and again, 
Grandon’s brave warriors charged into the 
breaches made by their artillery, only to 
be hurled back by the desperate defenders. 

Presently, however, a contingent of 
fighting Traveks, Grandon’s fierce war¬ 
riors from the mountain fastnesses of 
Uxpo, broke through and charged 
straight for the palace. 

The commander of the Huitsenni had 
anticipated just such an emergency, and 
v/as prepared to meet it. Mounted on 
zandars, firing their torks and brandish¬ 
ing their heavy scarbos, a yelling horde of 
reserves thundered straight at the charg¬ 
ing Traveks. 

The Uxponian mountaineers in the 
first line instantly knelt and presented 
their long-bladed spears, while their com¬ 
rades immediately behind them fired over 
their heads at the swiftly approaching 
enemy. The two forces met with a ter¬ 
rific shock in which tough spear-shafts 
were splintered, scarbos flashed, and torks 
spat incessantly. In an instant the first 
line was a bloody shambles of dead and 
wounded men and zandars. At this 
point, wave after wave met, until the pile 
of dead, inextricably mingled with wound¬ 
ed men and maimed and struggling 
beasts, was so high that neither side 
could advance, both using it as a rampart 
over which to fire their torks. 

The Reabonians, however, fighting 
shoulder to shoulder witn their Uxponian 
brothers on either side, had quickly wid¬ 
ened the breach made by the Traveks. 


Now they, too, charged into the city, soon 
enveloping the mounted Huitsenni until 
all chance of retreat for tire yellow cav¬ 
alry was lost. Seeing that further resist¬ 
ance was hopeless, they threw down their 
arms, and clasped their hands behind their 
heads in token of surrender. 

Leaving a few of their comrades to 
guard the prisoners and aid the wounded, 
the Traveks again charged forward with 
the Reabonians, helping to drive the yel¬ 
low infantry toward the palace. "For 
Grandon and Vernia!” they shouted. 
"Down with Huitsen!” 

From beyond the palace, a tremendous 
cheer answered them, as the allied war¬ 
riors from the battleships drove the Huit¬ 
senni back. 

While his keel mattorks kept up a con¬ 
tinuous bombardment of the yellow army 
beneath, Zinlo watched these beginnings 
of victory with satisfaction. Then he sud¬ 
denly saw that for which he had been 
waiting. Out from those buildings sur¬ 
rounding and closest to the palace, and 
from the fishing-holes in the vicinity, there 
poured a swarm of Huitsenni, armed and 
dressed like the others, with the exception 
that each man wore a white scarf knotted 
around his neck and thrown over his 
shoulders. 

Part of this new force charged straight 
for the palace, and the remainder formed 
a great skirmish line to cut off the ap¬ 
proach of the retreating Huitsenni. 

"It’s the Chispoks!” cried Zinlo. “To 
the palace, Lotar.” 


The fleets of the allies and the powerful air navy of Olba unite in their final 
effort to crush the power of the buccaneers, while Grandon battles desperate' 
ly for his life and the honor of his lovely bride in the palace of Huitsen. 
Read the smashing denouement to this thrill'pac\ed tale in the April 
issue of WEIRD TALES, on sale March 1st 


W. T.—S 



A startling tale of the Tower of London, haunted by the 
ghosts of dead conspirators 


T HE Tower of London! Every stu¬ 
dent of history must be acquainted, 
by repute at least, with that ancient 
stronghold which rears its gray, many- 
turreted head on the north bank of the 
River Thames, seeming still to be keeping 
watch and ward over the great city which 
stretches on every side as far as the eye 
can reach. 

Figuring at different times as British 
earthwork, Roman fortress, Plantagenet 
palace, and Tudor prison, its time-stained 
W. T.— 6 


walls have echoed to the din of war, the 
trumpet-blast of proud chivalry, the mirth 
of kingly revels, the sighs of languishing 
captives, and the groans of the hapless 
victims of "foul and midnight murder.” 
Its history is the history of England itself, 
for few indeed are the events recorded 
therein in which it has not played its part. 

Yet, in spite of its interesting associa¬ 
tions, it was with very mixed feelings that 
I learnt, in February, 1917, that I was to 
have the privilege of residing within its 
353 



























354 


WEIRD TALES 


walls. Like so many other mounted regi¬ 
ments during that time of national emer¬ 
gency, my unit, the Honorable Artillery 
Company, had been converted into in¬ 
fantry, and as such had been ordered to 
relieve the Guards’ battalion which then 
formed the garrison of the Tower. 

Of course, this does not imply that the 
military authorities contemplated utilizing 
the old relic as a part of (die defenses of 
the capital. Formidable though the mas¬ 
sive walls may have been in the age in 
which they were built, a modern howitzer 
battery could have shelled the whole place 
into a heap of rubble for an afternoon’s 
practise. From time immemorial it had 
been the custom to keep an armed force 
there; and so, when we marched in and 
took possession with much pomp and 
ceremony, we were but carrying on the 
tradition which had existed from pre- 
Norman times. We were the legitimate 
successors to the mail-clad billmen and 
bowmen who had fought at Agincourt 
and Crecy, the dour Puritan pikemen of 
Cromwell’s day, and the red-coated grena¬ 
diers from whose bayonets Napoleon’s 
Old Guard had recoiled at Waterloo. 

It would be invidious for me to express 
an opinion as to why our particular unit 
was selected for this honor, but I do not 
think I will be accused of undue esprit de 
corps when I describe the Honorable Ar¬ 
tillery Company as a crack regiment. Pro¬ 
fessional men, artists, actors, men of let¬ 
ters, together with a fair sprinkling of col¬ 
lege undergraduates, formed the bulk of 
the rank and file, and I must admit that 
they proved themselves a remarkably effi¬ 
cient and well-disciplined body of men. 
Considering that nearly everybody was 
keen on getting a commission (the other 
units used to call us the "Unofficial Offi¬ 
cers’ Training Corps”), it is scarcely sur¬ 
prizing that crime—I use the word in its 
military sense—was almost non-existent 


among us. There was but one blot on our 
fair fame in this respect, and that was 
Private Michael Maloney. 

B y what series of mischances Maloney 
managed to find his way into the H. 
A. C. is a problem that I have never been 
able to solve. He had previously served in 
France with the Royal Munsters, and had 
there behaved with such gallantry that he 
had been awarded the Military Medal and 
promoted to the rank of sergeant. Then 
he had been wounded, sent to England, 
and then—probably at the instigation of 
some well-meaning "brass hat” who 
thought thereby to enhance Maloney’s 
prospects of further promotion—trans¬ 
ferred to us. As it turned out, this was 
about the worst thing that could have 
happened to him. Rough, uneducated, 
though with a heart of sterling gold and 
as brave a soldier as one would wish to 
command, poor Maloney was like a fish 
out of water among the rather high-toned 
company in which he found himself. 
Being unable to live up to his new sur¬ 
roundings, he took to seeking his diver¬ 
sions among the rather questionable char¬ 
acters who at that time were always to be 
found not far away from a military sta¬ 
tion, and who were only too willing to 
help him get rid of his pay in the local 
public-houses. Troubles soon began to ac¬ 
cumulate around his not over-intelligent 
head. He became slack in his duties and 
slovenly on parade; and—an unpardon¬ 
able offense in war time—began to allow 
his hours of alcoholic indulgence to en¬ 
croach on his hours of duty. 

First he lost the stripes he had so 
bravely won at Ypres; then he was initi¬ 
ated into the irksome mysteries which are 
indicated by the letters C.B.; finally figur¬ 
ing in a general court-martial, by which 
he was awarded twenty-eight days’ deten¬ 
tion in "the clink.” 


THE DEVIL’S TOWER 


355 


"He’s getting to be a positive disgrace 
to the regiment,” Major Faversham, the 
adjutant, said to me as we sat together in 
the smoke-room of the Mess. "And the 
funny part about it is that he had an ex¬ 
emplary record-sheet before he came to 
us.” 

I nodded in agreement. Much as I liked 
the erring Irishman, the fact of his numer¬ 
ous sentences spoke for itself. "Still,” I 
added, "there must be some reason at the 
back of it all. A good soldier does not 
suddenly start going wrong for nothing.” 

For a few moments Major Faversham 
sat smoking thoughtfully; then he sprang 
to his feet. 

"You’re right,” he cried, "and I’m de¬ 
termined to get to the bottom of the mat¬ 
ter. I just hate to see a promising man 
going to tire bad as he’s going. I’ll have 
him up here for a friendly, informal chat, 
and talk to him like a father.” 

Considering that Maloney stood sue 
feet in his socks and was built in propor¬ 
tion, the major’s observation was not with¬ 
out its humorous side. But I managed to 
keep a straight face, and merely asked: 

"Do you wish me to be present, sir?” 

"Yes, I think it would be better. You’re 
his company commander, and I’ve noticed 
that he seems to have rather a liking for 
you. You may be able to suggest some¬ 
thing.” 

A pparently the orderly who was sent 
to round up the black sheep had no 
difficulty in locating his quarry. In a few 
minutes Maloney entered, clicked his heels 
smartly as he came to the salute, and re¬ 
mained standing stiffly to attention, his 
features frozen into that wooden, blank¬ 
eyed expression that all good soldiers are 
apt to assume in the presence of their 
superior officer. 

"Now, Maloney,” said the major, suit¬ 


ing the action to the word, "I’m going to 
take off my tunic.” 

"Yis, sor.” Maloney answered in his 
rich brogue. Except that his eyes opened 
a trifle wider, he showed no surprize at 
Faversham’s unusual behavior. 

"Can you guess why I’ve done that?” 
the major asked as he tossed his discarded 
coat and Sam-Browne belt on the couch. 

"Oi can not, sor.” 

"It’s because I want you to look on me 
for the next half-hour or so, not as your 
superior officer, but as a human being like 
yourself. You needn’t stand there as if 
you’re on 'general inspection.’ Sit your¬ 
self down and try one of these cigarettes. 
I’m going to talk to you like a father." 

"Oi niver knew my father, sor-” 

"You’re going to know one now, Ma¬ 
loney. Sit down. And now,” he went on 
when Maloney had reluctantly and un¬ 
easily lowered his bulk into one of the 
easy-chairs, "what about it, eh?” 

“About phwat, sor?” asked the wonder¬ 
ing private. 

"About the way you’ve been carrying 
on lately. Aren’t you about tired of doing 
C.B. and pack-drill? What about keeping 
straight for a bit of a change?” 

It was evident that Faversham had care¬ 
fully rehearsed his speech, for he reeled it 
off with the breathless eloquence of a ser¬ 
geant-instructor detailing "Slope arms by 
numbers.” During the oration I stole a 
glance into the face of the man for whose 
benefit it was being delivered, and I was 
rejoiced to see, by the uneasy shuffling of 
his feet and the embarrassed blush on his 
open and ingenuous countenance, that the 
major’s good seed was not falling on 
stony ground. By the time the peroration 
had come to an end—it was an appeal to 
save the good name of the regiment, such 
as no soldier can listen to unmoved—poor 
Maloney was almost reduced to tears. 

"Oi know it’s all thrue, sor, iwery 


356 


WEIRD TALES 


worrd uv it,” he said dolefully. "Oi know 
it’s worse than a baste Oi am whin Oi’ve 
taken dhrink. But Oi can’t help getting 
dhrunk, and that’s the honest truth, sor— 
at least not whoile Oi’m living in this dis¬ 
tressing ould place.” 

I raised my eyebrows at this. "Is there 
anything wrong with your quarters?” I 
asked. 

"Oh, they’re comfortable enough, sor,” 
he admitted readily. "It’s the place itself. 
Faith, niwer a minute’s pace of moind 
have Oi had at all since the moment Oi 
came here. It’s haunted, the place is, sor!” 

"Haunted?” I felt inclined to laugh, 
but the intense, almost pathetic earnest¬ 
ness with which he made the statement 
caused me to refrain. "Who’s been tell¬ 
ing you that nonsense?” 

“Niwer a soul said a worrd, sor. It’s 
what Oi’ve seen wid me own eyes.” 

1 looked at him curiously before re¬ 
plying. He was of that dark-haired, 
dark-eyed type of Irish which one occa¬ 
sionally encounters among the coast- 
dwellers of Munster and Connaught. In 
features and complexion strongly resem¬ 
bling the natives of southern Europe, their 
presence among a light-haired population 
has long been a puzzle to ethnologists; 
so much so, indeed, that they have been 
forced to adopt the theory that they are 
the descendants of the soldiers and mari¬ 
ners of the Spanish Armada, the bulk of 
whose ships were wrecked on that rock- 
bound coast. But, be his ancestry what it 
might, there could be not the slightest 
doubt but that he was in deadly earnest in 
his assertion that the Tower was haunted. 
I allowed no inkling of my real feelings 
to show as I asked carelessly: 

"And what have you seen, Maloney?” 
"Things that didn’t ought to be seen at 
all, sor—-things that aren’t of this world,” 
was his hushed answer. "Aye—and Oi 


heerd ’em, too! Didn’t Oi, whin shovel¬ 
ling the colonel’s coal into thim dungeons 
ahint the Boochump Tower, didn’t Oi 
hear the groans of the poor divils that had 
been imprisoned there, maybe hunnerds 
of years ago? Didn’t Oi hear the clank of 
their chains and their prayers to be put out 
of their misery? Whin Oi mounted guard 
at noight, on the path by the Traitors’ 
Gate, didn’t Oi see a boat row up where 
there was niver a dhrop of water, and the 
prisoners come up the steps? Didn’t Oi 
hear the muffled tolling of the bell when 
Oi saw the little percession make its way 
to the railed-off spot near the chapel, wid 
a man carrying a whacking great ax on 
his shoulder lading the way? Oi tell ye, 
sor, what Oi’ve seen since Oi’ve been here 
is enough to sind anybody on the dhrink!” 

During this extraordinary recital I 
caught Major Faversham’s eyes fixed on 
mine with a quizzical, half-humorous ex¬ 
pression. It was dear that Maloney’s 
novel explanation of his lapses had taken 
him by surprize, and, recalling the major’s 
oft-expressed disbelief in things super¬ 
natural, I surmised that it obtained scant 
credence in his mind. But with me it was 
otherwise. At that time I had not, it is 
true, any settled opinions regarding the 
possibility or otherwise of spirits from 
another sphere revisiting the earth. But I 
was intensely interested in the subject; 
and here, ready to hand, was a case which 
might possibly repay investigation. 

After all, I argued to myself, medium- 
ship is not confined to the educated classes. 
If one could credit the utterances of emi¬ 
nent spiritualists, the gift might be pos¬ 
sessed—sometimes quite unknowingly—• 
by those in the humblest walks of life. 
Might not this man, rude and unlettered 
though he was, yet have that mysterious 
psychic power of perceiving things invis¬ 
ible to other less delicately attuned minds? 
Cases have certainly been recorded of 


THE DEVIL’S TOWER 


357 


such; might not the man before me be 
another? 

A grim laugh from Major Faversham 
interrupted my train of thought. 

"So you’ve been seeing ghosts, have 
you?” he was saying. "Well, I’m going 
to give them the job of reforming you.” 

"Reforming me, sor?” There was an 
uneasy look in Maloney’s eyes as he re¬ 
peated the words. 

"Yes, I’m going to give you one last 
chance of keeping off the drink and be¬ 
coming a decent soldier. But the next 
time you’re 'on the peg’ I’m going to take 
your case myself and sentence you to a 
night’s solitary confinement — in the 
Devil’s Tower!” 

Maloney did not seem to comprehend. 
"Beggin’ yer pardon, sor, but which one 
is that? There’s so many different towers 
about the place that Oi mix up the 
names.” 

Unseen by the other man. Major Faver¬ 
sham turned to me and gave me a slow, 
expressive wink, which I assumed to mean 
that he had some deep-laid scheme in 
hand. 

"It is the tower which stands at the 
northwestern angle of the outer walls,” he 
explained in a solemn and impressive 
voice. "It contains the ancient torture- 
chamber. Within it, Guy Fawkes—to 
mention only one case—was racked, to 
make him confess who were his fellow 
conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot. It is 
the place that has more ghosts hanging 
around it than all the rest of the other 
dungeons put together—and that’s where 
you’re going to spend the night the next 
time you get drunk!” 

Maloney was visibly impressed by the 
threat. To a disbeliever in ghosts the pun¬ 
ishment might have appeared absurdly 
light, but for him it had real terror. 

"Is that punishment in the King’s rules 


and reg’lations, sor?” he asked in an un¬ 
steady voice. 

In spite of his assumed gravity, I could 
see the corners of Faversham’s mouth 
twitch. 

"The War Office does not take cogni¬ 
zance of the unseen world,” he replied, 
controlling his amusement. "Solitary con¬ 
finement is quite in order, and I’ll throw 
in the ghosts free gratis. So let’s have no 
more trouble, Maloney. Have a glass or 
two and welcome, if you wish to, but 
don’t mix up duty and drinking. If you 
do-” 

"Yis, sor?” 

"You’re for a night alone with the 
ghosts of the Devil’s Tower!” 

D uring the days which followed this 
serio-comic interview I kept an anx¬ 
ious eye on the behavior of Private Ma¬ 
loney. In my mind I had but little faith 
that the major’s threat of an enforced so¬ 
journ among disembodied spirits would 
outweigh the allurements of the spirits of 
a more potent and material nature, the 
effects of which had hitherto formed a 
lively accompaniment to such pay-nights 
as Maloney had been at liberty to indulge 
in them. But one Friday came and went 
without alcoholic celebrations; then 
another and another, until I began to 
think that the impossible had happened, 
and that he had been weaned from his 
besetting failing by a bogy which existed 
only in Major Faversham’s fertile imag¬ 
ination. For at that time we had no rea¬ 
son to regard his statement that the Dev¬ 
il’s Tower was haunted as otherwise than 
a somewhat grim jest. 

This tower, which forms a defense of 
the outer walls, is commonly known as 
the "Devereux Tower,” but that was not 
its original name. In an ancient survey of 
the fortress, taken in the reign of Henry 
VIII, it is called "Robyn the Devyll’s 


358 


WEIRD TALES 


Tower,” but in a later plan of 1597 it 
figures as the "Develin Tower.” It is only 
when we come to 1601 after Robert 
Devereux, Earl of Essex, had been con¬ 
fined there, that we find it referred to as 
the "Devereux Tower.” 

There can be not the slightest doubt 
that it is an extremely antique structure—- 
some authorities assigning to it a date an¬ 
terior to the square Norman keep known 
as the White Tower, and it retains for the 
most part its original character, having 
undergone little or no alteration. In form 
it approaches almost to a circle, and con¬ 
sists of two stories, with one apartment on 
each, ascended by a narrow winding stair¬ 
case of stone. The basement floor, which 
is vaulted and groined, is about nineteen 
feet in diameter, and the walls are eleven 
feet thick. 

Though undoubtedly used as a state 
prison from the earliest times, there was 
not the slightest evidence of it ever having 
contained the ancient torture-chamber— 
that part of the story had been an entirely 
gratuitous assumption on the major’s part. 
But we were soon to receive tragic proof 
that his words, lightly uttered though 
they were, had come surprizingly near the 
truth. 

“TTalt! Who goes there?” 

ri "Keys.” 

"Whose keys?” 

"King George’s keys.” 

"Advance, King George’s keys, and 
all’s well.'’ 

It was the ancient ceremony of "The 
King’s Keys,” that quaint, old-world rit¬ 
ual which for centuries has been repeated 
nightly at the main guard-house when the 
gates of the Tower are locked for the 
night. 

On the particular occasion of which I 
write, however, there was a new and un¬ 
rehearsed incident introduced. No sooner 


had the red-cloaked yeoman-porter com¬ 
menced to close the massive gates than a 
wild and dishevelled figure appeared on 
the bridge that spans the moat. My heart 
sank as I recognized it. It was Private 
Maloney, hatless, coatless, and fighting 
drunk. Heaven knows by what miracle 
he had forced his way past the picket at 
the other end of the bridge, but his grazed 
knuckles and swollen lip showed that his 
passage had not been undisputed. 

Half a dozen flying strides took him 
across the bridge; then, lowering his head, 
he charged the gate like a bull. The next 
few minutes were more like a night raid 
in the trenches than the peaceful cer¬ 
emony of locking up the Tower. Taken 
by surprize, the venerable old gentleman 
with the keys performed a complicated 
evolution not to be found in the drill- 
book, which ended by his assuming the 
supine position on top of the equally ven¬ 
erable old gentleman who carried the lan¬ 
tern. The next instant a smashing left 
from Maloney had sent the sergeant of 
the guard down to keep them company. 

But Maloney’s triumph v/as short-lived. 
Recovering from their astonishment, the 
guard laid aside their rifles and closed 
round him, a pair of handcuffs clicked on 
his wrists, and he was helpless. But his 
spirit was far from subdued, even then. 

"Take these bracelets off, ye dhirty 
blackguards, and Oi’ll show ye-” 

"Silence!” I roared in my best parade 
manner. "Are you mad?” 

"Divil a bit of it—’tis only dhrunk Oi 
am, Captain darlint. Faith, and what ’ud 
Saint Pathrick’s Day be widout a sup or 
two to remimber it by? Sure, for the 
honor of ould Oireland Oi had to-” 

"Now then, what’s all this row about?” 
said a voice out of the darkness. Major 
Faversham, attracted by the din, had come 
from his quarters to ascertain the reason 
of it. 


THE DEVIL S TOWER 


359 


There was no need for explanation, 
however. No sooner did his eyes rest on 
our prisoner than he had grasped the 
situation. 

"So it’s you again, eh? Well, I warned 
you what was going to happen the next 
time. You’re going to have a night’s lodg¬ 
ing in the Devil’s Tower—with the ghosts 
to keep you company.” 

An instantaneous change took place in 
the bearing of Private Maloney. The 
words seemed to sober him like a dash of 
ice-cold water. His truculent attitude 
dropped from him like a cloak, and in its 
place there came an emotion very much 
like fear. 

"You’re going to lock me up in that 
place ye spoke about—the Devil’s Tow¬ 
er?” he said slowly. 

"You’ve stated my intentions exactly.” 

"But—think, sor”—there was undis¬ 
guised terror in the man’s voice now— 
"the place is haunted!” 

I stepped forward and called the guard 
to attention. Then I turned to Maloney. 

"You knew perfectly well what you 
were up against if you got drunk again,” 
I told him sternly, as I placed myself at 
the head of the little squad. "Sergeant, 
get the keys of the Devil’s Tower. Guard 
. . . slope arms! By the right . . . quick 
march!” 

Five minutes later the iron-studded 
door had clanged to, and Private Maloney 
was a prisoner in the Devil’s Tower. 

I must confess that my mind was not 
entirely at ease as I made my way to 
my quarters and turned in. Had Major 
Faversham been as clever as he had 
thought? Not that I thought for a mo¬ 
ment that the old place was really haunt¬ 
ed; it was rather its possible effect on the 
mind of the man who did think so that 
left me filled with vague misgivings. 

I was still worrying over the problem 


when I fell asleep, and it was the first 
thing that leapt to my mind when, some 
two hours later, I was awakened by an 
urgent and insistent knocking. Leaping 
from my bed and snapping on the lights, 

I found it was the sergeant of the guard. 

"What’s the trouble, sergeant?” 

"There’s something queer going on in 
the Devil’s Tower, sir—something I can’t 
make head or tail of.” 

"The Devil’s Tower?” I cried in amaze¬ 
ment. "Why, that’s where we put Private 
Maloney!” 

"Yes, and it’s from his cell that the 
noises are coming.” 

"What kind of noises?" I demanded, as 
I began to dress hurriedly. 

"Talking in different voices, and sounds 
I can’t put a name to. There seemed to 
be three people in there. Maybe more.” 

"Then why on earth didn’t you open 
the door?” 

"I tried to, sir—it was the first thing I 
did—but the key wouldn’t fit.” 

"Nonsense!” I cried. "It opened easily 
enough when we put him in. You must 
have taken the wrong key.” 

The sergeant shook his head positively. 
"I tried every one on the bunch, sir.” 

Telling the sergeant to arouse Major 
Faversham and apprise him that some¬ 
thing was amiss, I buckled my belt, 
slipped my revolver into its holster, and 
made my way along the path in the 
shadow of the battlements and a few min¬ 
utes later stood before the door of Ma¬ 
loney’s cell. I had the bunch of keys in 
my hand, but before attempting to use 
them I stood still and listened. 

There was a confused low muttering 
coming from within. I bent my ear close 
to the nail-studded door. 

"Lave me alone, will ye?”—it was ob¬ 
viously Maloney’s voice—"For what d’ye 
want to kape botherin’ me? Oi don’t 
know what ye’re talking about at all.” 


360 


WEIRD TALES 


Then, to my surprize, there came anoth¬ 
er voice. It was clear and bell-like, as 
much removed from the Irishman’s brogue 
as is possible to imagine. 

"Tell me the names of thine associates 
in thine enterprise,” it said. "It is useless 
to prevaricate—it will but make thy pun¬ 
ishment more terrible. Confess everything, 
and His Majesty will show his clemency 
by having thee executed forthwith.” 

"Then ye can thank him from me for 
nothing!” returned Maloney emphatically. 

"Thy treasonable speech showeth that 
thou art hardened in thy guilt,” said the 
silvery voice. "Methinks there is naught to 
do but put thee to the torment. So Robin 
and his fellows must persuade thee with 
their arts. Ho, knaves! Seize him!” 

I waited to hear no more. Quickly 
selecting the key, I thrust it into the lock. 
Strange!—the key was much too small. 
Withdrawing it, I examined it by the 
light of my electric torch. Surely it was 
the right key, for there was the name of 
the tower engraved on the haft. Could I 
be at the wrong door? Impossible—had I 
not heard Maloney speaking inside? 

I was still trying to straighten out the 
chaos of my thoughts when hurried steps 
on the spiral stairs announced the arrival 
of Faversham and the sergeant. In a hur¬ 
ried whisper I explained what I had heard, 
and immediately afterward, as though to 
confirm my words, there came the sounds 
of a short, sharp struggle from within, 
followed by a prolonged creaking like that 
of an ill-greased cart-wheel. 

"Thou seest, we do not jest,” said the 
bell-like voice. "For the last time, who 
are thine accomplices?” 

"Ye’re crazy! How can Oi tell ye what 
Oi don’t know meself?” demanded Ma¬ 
loney wrathfully. 

"I fear me thou art obdurate. So . , 

The voice ceased as though the speaker 
had made a gesture to some unseen per¬ 


son. At once the creaking was resumed, 
but this time it sounded as if the wheel 
were revolving more slowly. 

I turned to look at Faversham, and I 
remember wondering if my own face was 
as deathly white as his. 

"This is beyond me,” he muttered. 
"There’s something so cursedly strange 
about the business that-- 

A terrible cry came from behind the 
locked door—a sobbing, gasping shriek 
such as is wrung by direct agony. 

"He’s being murdered in there!” shout¬ 
ed Faversham. "Break down the door!” 

With one accord we threw ourselves 
against it, but the massive, iron-bound oak 
remained unmoved by our puny efforts. 
Desperately we panted and sweated, and 
all the while we could hear the devilish 
creaking from within, interspersed with 
faint groans and the sound of the ice-cold 
voice urging, "Confess—confess.” 

At last Faversham staggered back 
against the wall and thrust his fingers in 
his ears to keep out the sounds. 

"I can stand it no longer!” he gasped. 
"Sergeant, go to the bomb-store and bring 
me a Mills number two. We must blow 
open the door.” 

T he sergeant saluted and clattered 
downstairs, returning in a few sec¬ 
onds with the bomb. Loosely tying the 
four comers of my handkerchief together, 
I placed the deadly, egg-shaped engine of 
destruction inside, and hung the knotted 
loop on the door-handle so that the bomb 
rested against the ponderous lock. With 
a warning to the others to take cover, I 
pulled out the safety-pin, allowing the 
lever to fly up, then ran for my life. 

I had barely time to wedge myself 
behind a neighboring stone pillar before 
the fuse reached the ammonal. There 
came a flash of white fire, a sharp, ear- 
splitting detonation, a whirring and tink- 


THE DEVIL’S TOWER 


361 


ling of flying fragments against the stone 
walls. 

Coughing and choking with the acrid 
fumes of the explosion, I dashed through 
the splintered door and swept the beam of 
my torch round the apartment. Then I 
staggered and leant, sick and trembling, 
against the door-post, utterly unmanned 
by the horrible and unexpected sight 
which met my eyes, 

Our unfortunate prisoner lay on the 
floor in a stiff and constrained attitude, his 
arms and legs stretched out rigidly to 
their fullest extent. His face was livid and 
wet with the sweat of mortal agony. His 
eyes were wide open and fixed with a 
stony stare straight in front of him. And 
although he had been untouched by the 
fragments of the bomb, he was quite dead. 

For a few moments I stood swaying as 
I tried to realize the meaning of it all. 
Then, for the first time in my life, I sup¬ 
pose I must have fainted. 

I have not the slightest idea whether I 
walked back to my own quarters or was 
carried there. My first clear recollection is 
feeling the tang of raw spirits in my 
mouth, and seeing the face of our Medi¬ 
cal Officer bending over me. 

"Yes, the poor fellow was past all aid 
when I arrived," he said in answer to my 
first question. "And it wasn’t the explo¬ 
sion that killed him, either. He just died 
of mortal terror.” 

I uttered some words—heaven knows 
what. Probably they were half-hysterical, 
for the M.O. again held the brandy to my 
lips. 

"Sip this; then tell me everything that 
occurred.” 


I did so, hiding nothing. When I had 
finished there was a queer, brooding light 
in the doctor’s eyes. 

"So Major Faversham told the man 
that he was about to be confined in the 
old torture-chamber?” 

I nodded, and after a long, thoughtful 
pause he went on: 

"Auto-suggestion in a suitable subject 
is sometimes liable to go to incredible 
lengths. It is scarcely necessary for me to 
cite the well-attested phenomena which 
have resulted from time to time from pro¬ 
longed mental stress; no doubt many of 
the miracles of the Middle Ages were due 
to this cause, possibly accentuated by re¬ 
ligious ecstasy. But I have certainly never 
known any form of self-hypnotism capable 
of dislocating a man’s arms and legs!” 

"What?” I cried, aghast at this new 
horror. 

“The dead man’s limbs had been 
wrenched from their sockets, and violent¬ 
ly, too. I suppose this could not have hap¬ 
pened in the struggle when he was ar¬ 
rested?” 

"Impossible! He was well enough 
when we left him.” 

The M.O. pressed his lips together and 
a line of perplexity barred his forehead. 

"Nor v/as that all,” he said. "Around 
each wrist and ankle I found broad, red 
weals, such as might have been made by 
the ropes that used to stretch the victim on 
the rack-" 

"The rack!” A dim light of under¬ 
standing began to dawn on my mind. 
"The rack—in that old torture-chamber 
... I wonder . . .” 

"So do I,” said the doctor softly. 

And we’re wondering still. 




horror 


iigk t 


L 


sle 


of 


the Torturers 

By CLARK ASHTON SMITH 


A powerful story of terrific torments, and the strange, sudden 
onslaught of the Silver Death 


B ETWEEN the sun’s departure and 
return, the Silver Death had fallen 
upon Yoros. Its advent, however, 
had been foretold in many prophecies, 
both immemorial and recent. Astrologers 
had said that this mysterious malady, 
heretofore unknown on earth, would de¬ 
scend from the great star, Achernar, which 
presided balefully over all the lands of 
the southern continent of Zothique; and 
362 


having sealed the flesh of a myriad men 
with its bright, metallic pallor, the plague 
would still go on in time and space, borne 
by the dim currents of ether to other 
worlds. 

Dire was the Silver Death; and none 
knew the secret of its contagion or the 
cure. Swift as the desert wind, it came 
into Yoros from the devastated realm of 
Tasuun, overtaking the very messengers 







THE ISLE OF THE TORTURERS 


363 


who ran by night to give warning of its 
nearness. Those who were smitten felt 
an icy, freezing cold, an instant rigor, as 
if the outermost gulf had breathed upon 
them. Their faces and bodies whitened 
strangely, gleaming with a wan luster, 
and became stiff as long-dead corpses, all 
in an interim of minutes. 

In the streets of Silpon and Siloar, and 
in Faraad,the capital ofYoros, the plague 
passed like an eery, glittering light from 
countenance to countenance under the 
golden lamps; and the victims fell where 
they were stricken; and the deathly bright¬ 
ness remained upon them. 

The loud, tumultuous public carnivals 
were stilled by its passing, and the merry¬ 
makers were frozen in frolic attitudes. 
In proud mansions, the wine-ffushed revel¬ 
lers grew pale amid their garish feasts, 
and reclined in their opulent chairs, still 
holding the half-emptied cups with rigid 
fingers. Merchants lay in their counting- 
houses on the heaped coins they had be¬ 
gun to reckon; and thieves, entering later, 
were unable to depart with their booty. 
Diggers died in the half-completed graves 
they had dug for others; but no one came 
to dispute their possession. 

There was no time to flee from the 
strange, inevitable scourge. Dreadfully 
and quickly, beneath the clear stars, it 
breathed upon Yoros; and few were they 
who awakened from slumber at dawn. 
Fulbra, the young king of Yoros, who 
had but newly succeeded to the throne, 
was virtually a ruler without a people. 

F ulbra had spent the night of the 
plague’s advent on a high tower of 
his palace above Faraad: an observatory 
tower, equipped with astronomical ap¬ 
pliances. A great heaviness had lain on 
his heart, and his thoughts were dulled 
with an opiate despair; but sleep was re¬ 
mote from his eyelids. He knew the 


many predictions that foretold the Silver 
Death; and moreover he had read its im¬ 
minent coming in the stars, with the aid 
of the old astrologer and sorcerer, Vem- 
deez. This latter knowledge he and Vem- 
deez had not cared to promulgate, know¬ 
ing full well that the doom of Yoros was 
a thing decreed from all time by infinite 
destiny; and that no man could evade the 
doom, unless it were written that he 
should die in another way than this. 

Now Vemdeez had cast the horoscope 
of Fulbra; and though he found therein 
certain ambiguities that his science could 
not resolve, it was nevertheless written 
plainly that the king would not die in 
Yoros. Where he would die, and in what 
manner, were alike doubtful. But Vem¬ 
deez, who had served Altath the father 
of Fulbra, and was no less devoted to 
the new ruler, had wrought by means of 
his magical art an enchanted ring that 
would protect Fulbra from the Silver 
Death in all times and places. 

The ring was made of a strange red 
metal, darker than ruddy gold or copper, 
and was set with a black and oblong gem, 
not known to terrestrial lapidaries, that 
gave forth eternally a strong, aromatic 
perfume. The sorcerer told Fulbra never 
to remove the ring from the middle fin¬ 
ger on which he wore it—not even in 
lands afar from Yoros and in days after 
the passing of the Silver Death: for if 
once the plague had breathed upon Ful¬ 
bra, he would bear its subtle contagion 
always in his flesh; and the contagion 
would assume its wonted virulence with 
the ring's removal. But Vemdeez did not 
tell the origin of the red metal and the 
dark gem, nor the price at which the pro¬ 
tective magic had been purchased. 

With a sad heart, Fulbra had accepted 
the ring and had worn it; and so it was 
that the Silver Death blew over him in 
the night and harmed him not. But wait- 


364 


WEIRD TALES 


ing anxiously on the high tower, and 
watching the golden lights of Faraad 
rather than the white, implacable stars, 
he felt a light, passing chillness that be¬ 
longed not to the summer air. And even 
as it passed the gay noises of the city 
ceased; and the moaning lutes faltered 
strangely and expired. A stillness crept 
on the carnival; and some of the lamps 
went out and were not re-lit. In the pal¬ 
ace beneath him there was also silence; 
and he heard no more the laughter of his 
courtiers and chamberlains. And Vem- 
deez came not, as was his custom, to join 
Fulbra on the tower at midnight. So Ful- 
bra knew himself for a realmless king; 
and the grief that he still felt for the 
noble Altath was swollen by a great sor¬ 
row for his perished people. 

Hour by hour he sat motionless, too 
sorrowful for tears. The stars changed 
above him; and Achernar glared down 
perpetually like the bright, cruel eye of 
a mocking demon; and the heavy balsam 
of the black-jewelled ring arose to his 
nostrils and seemed to stifle him. And 
once the thought occurred to Fulbra, to 
cast the ring away and die as his people 
had died. But his despair was too heavy 
upon him even for this; and so, at length, 
the dawn came slowly in heavens pale as 
the Silver Death, and found him still on 
the tower. 

I N the dawn, King Fulbra rose and de¬ 
scended the coiled stairs of porphyry 
into his palace. And midway on the 
stairs he saw the fallen corpse of the old 
sorcerer Vemdeez, who had died even as 
he climbed to join his master. The wrin¬ 
kled face of Vemdeez was like polished 
metal, and was whiter than his beard and 
hair; and his open eyes, which had been 
dark as sapphires, were frosted with the 
plague. Then, grieving greatly for the 
death of Vemdeez, whom he had loved 


as a foster-father, the king went slowly 
on. And in the suites and halls below, he 
found the bodies of his courtiers and ser¬ 
vants and guardsmen. And none re¬ 
mained alive, excepting three slaves who 
warded the green, brazen portals of the 
lower vaults, far beneath the palace. 

Now Fulbra bethought him of the 
counsel of Vemdeez, who had urged him 
to flee from Yoros and to seek shelter in 
the southern isle of Cyntrom, which paid 
tribute to the kings of Yoros. And 
though he had no heart for this, nor for 
any course of action, Fulbra bade the 
three remaining slaves to gather food and 
such other supplies as were necessary for 
a voyage of some length, and to carry 
them aboard a royal barge of ebony that 
was moored at the palace porticoes on the 
river Voum. 

Then, embarking with the slaves, he 
took the helm of the barge, and directed 
the slaves to unfurl the broad amber sail. 
And past the stately city of Faraad, whose 
streets were thronged with the silvery 
dead, they sailed on the widening jasper 
estuary of the Voum, and into the ama¬ 
ranth-colored gulf of the Indaskian Sea. 

A favorable wind was behind them, 
blowing from the north over desolate 
Tasuun and Yoros, even as the Silver 
Death had blown in the night. And idly 
beside them, on the Voum, there floated 
seaward many vessels whose crews and 
captains had all died of the plague. And 
Faraad was still as a necropolis of old 
time; and nothing stirred on the estuary 
shores, excepting the plumy, fan-shapen 
palms that swayed southward in the fresh¬ 
ening wind. And soon the green strand 
of Yoros receded, gathering to itself the 
blueness and the dreams of distance. 

Creaming with a winy foam, full of 
strange murmurous voices and vague 
tales of exotic things, the halcyon sea was 
about the voyagers now beneath the high- 


THE ISLE OF THE TORTURERS 


365 


lifting summer sun. But the sea’s en¬ 
chanted voices and its long, languorous, 
immeasurable cradling could not soothe 
the sorrow of Fulbra; and in his heart a 
despair abided, black as the gem that was 
set in the red ring of Vemdeez. 

Howbeit, he held the great helm of the 
ebon barge, and steered as straightly as 
he could by the sun toward Cyntrom. The 
amber sail was taut with the favoring 
wind; and the barge sped onward all that 
day, cleaving the amaranth waters with 
its dark prow that reared in the carven 
form of an ebony goddess. And when 
the night came with familiar austral stars, 
Fulbra was able to correct such errors as 
he had made in reckoning the course. 

For many days they flew southward; 
and the sun lowered a little in its circling 
behind them; and new stars climbed and 
clustered at evening about the black god¬ 
dess of the prow. And Fulbra, who had 
once sailed to the isle of Cyntrom in boy¬ 
hood days with his father Altath, thought 
to see ere long the lifting of its shores of 
camphor and sandalwood from the winy 
deep. But in his heart there was no glad¬ 
ness; and often now he was blinded by 
wild tears, remembering that other voy¬ 
age with Altath. 

Then, suddenly and at high noon, there 
fell an airless calm, and the waters be¬ 
came as purple glass about the barge. The 
sky changed to a dome of beaten copper, 
arching dose and low; and as if by some 
evil wizardry, the dome darkened with 
untimely night, and a tempest rose like 
the gathered breath of mighty devils and 
shaped the sea into vast ridges and abys¬ 
mal valleys. The mast of ebony snapped 
like a reed in the wind, and the sail was 
torn asunder, and the helpless vessel 
pitched headlong in the dark troughs and 
was hurled upward through veils of 
blinding foam to the giddy summits of 
the billows. 


Fulbra clung to the useless helm, and 
the slaves, at his command, took shelter 
in the forward cabin. For countless hours 
they were borne onward at the will of the 
mad hurricane; and Fulbra could see 
naught in the lowering gloom, except the 
pale crests of the beetling waves; and he 
could tell no longer the direction of their 
course. 

Then, in that lurid dusk, he beheld at 
intervals another vessel that rode the 
storm-driven sea, not far from the barge. 
He thought that the vessel was a galley 
such as might be used by merchants that 
voyaged among the southern isles, trad¬ 
ing for incense and plumes and vermilion; 
but its oars were mostly broken, and the 
toppled mast and sail hung forward on 
the prow. 

F or a time the ships drove on together; 

till Fulbra saw, in a rifting of the 
gloom, the sharp and somber crags of an 
unknown shore, with sharper towers that 
lifted palely above them. He could not 
turn the helm; and the barge and its com¬ 
panion vessel were carried toward the 
looming rocks, till Fulbra thought that 
they would crash thereon. But, as if by 
some enchantment, even as it had risen, 
the sea fell abruptly in a windless calm; 
and quiet sunlight poured from a clear¬ 
ing sky; and the barge was left on a broad 
crescent of ocher-yellow sand between the 
crags and the lulling waters, with the gal¬ 
ley beside it. 

Dazed and marvelling, Fulbra leaped 
on the helm, while his slaves crept timidly 
forth from the cabin, and men began to 
appear on the decks of the galley. And 
the kingwas about to hail these men, some 
of whom were dressed as humble sailors 
and others in the fashion of rich mer¬ 
chants. But he heard a laughter of strange 
voices, high and shrill and somehow evil, 


366 


WEIRD TALES 


that seemed to fall from above; and look¬ 
ing up he saw that many people were de¬ 
scending a sort of stairway in the cliffs 
that enclosed the beach. 

The people drew near, thronging about 
die barge and the galley. They wore fan¬ 
tastic turbans of blood-red, and were clad 
in closely fitting robes of vulturine black. 
Their faces and hands were yellow as saf¬ 
fron; their small and slaty eyes were set 
obliquely beneath lashless lids; and their 
thin lips, which smiled eternally, were 
crooked as the blades of simitars. 

They bore sinister and wicked-looking 
weapons, in the form of saw-toothed 
swords and double-headed spears. Some 
of them bowed low before Fulbra and ad¬ 
dressed him obsequiously, staring upon 
him all the while with an unblinking gaze 
that he could not fathom. Their speech 
was no less alien than their aspect; it was 
full of sharp and hissing sounds; and 
neither the king nor his slaves could com¬ 
prehend it. But Fulbra bespoke the peo¬ 
ple courteously, in the mild and mellow- 
flowing tongue of Yoros, and inquired 
the name of this land whereon the barge 
had been cast by the tempest. 

Certain of the people seemed to under¬ 
stand him, for a light came in their slaty 
eyes at his question; and one of them an¬ 
swered brokenly in the language of Yoros, 
saying that the land was the Isle of Ucca- 
strog. Then, with something of covert 
evil in his smile, this person added that all 
shipwrecked mariners and seafarers would 
receive a goodly welcome from Ildrac, the 
king of the Isle. 

At this, the heart of Fulbra sank within 
him; for he had heard numerous tales of 
Uccastrog in bygone years; and the tales 
were not such as would reassure a strand¬ 
ed traveler. Uccastrog, which lay far to 
the east of Cyntrom, was commonly known 
as the Isle of the Torturers; and men said 


that all who landed upon it unaware, or 
were cast thither by the seas, were im¬ 
prisoned by the inhabitants and were sub¬ 
jected later to unending curious tortures 
whose infliction formed the chief delight 
of these cruel beings. No man, it was 
rumored, had ever escaped from Ucca¬ 
strog; but many had lingered for years in 
its dungeons and hellish torture-cham¬ 
bers, kept alive for the pleasure of King 
Ildrac and his followers. Also, it was be¬ 
lieved that the Torturers were great ma¬ 
gicians who could raise mighty storms 
with their enchantments, and could cause 
vessels to be carried far from the mari¬ 
time routes, and then fling them ashore 
upon Uccastrog. 

Seeing that the yellow people were all 
about the barge, and that no escape was 
possible, Fulbra asked them to take him 
at once before King Ildrac. To Ildrac he 
would announce his name and royal rank; 
and it seemed to him, in his simplicity, 
that one king, even though cruel-hearted, 
would scarcely torture another or keep 
him captive. Also, it might be that the in¬ 
habitants of Uccastrog had been some¬ 
what maligned by the tales of travelers. 

So Fulbra and his slaves were sur¬ 
rounded by certain of the throng and were 
led toward the palace of Ildrac, whose 
high, sharp towers crowned the crags be¬ 
yond the beach, rising above those clus¬ 
tered abodes in which the island people 
dwelt. And while they were climbing 
the hewn steps in the cliff, Fulbra heard 
a loud outcry below and a clashing as of 
steel against steel; and looking bade, he 
saw that the crew of the stranded galley 
had drawn their swords and were fighting 
the islanders. But being outnumbered 
greatly, their resistance was borne down 
by the swarming Torturers; and most of 
them were taken alive. And Fulbra’s 
heart misgave him sorely at this sight; 


THE ISLE OF THE TORTURERS 


367 


and more and more did he mistrust the 
yellow people. 

Soon he came into the presence of 
Ildrac, who sat on a lofty brazen chair in 
a vast hall of the palace. Ildrac was taller 
by half a head than any of his followers; 
and his features were like a mask of evil 
wrought from some pale, gilded metal; 
and he was clad in vestments of a strange 
hue, like sea-purple brightened with fresh¬ 
flowing blood. About him were many 
guardsmen, armed with terrible scythe¬ 
like weapons; and the sullen, slant-eyed 
girls of the palace, in skirts of vermilion 
and breast-cups of lazuli, went to and fro 
among huge basaltic columns. About the 
hall stood numerous engineries of wood 
and stone and metal such as Fulbra had 
never beheld, and having a formidable 
aspect with their heavy chains, their beds 
of iron teeth and their cords and pulleys 
of fish-skin. 

T he young king of Yoros went for¬ 
ward with a royal and fearless bear¬ 
ing, and addressed Ildrac, who sat motion¬ 
less and eyed him with a level, unwink¬ 
ing gaze. And Fulbra told Ildrac his name 
and station, and the calamity that had 
caused him to flee from Yoros; and he 
mentioned also his urgent desire to reach 
the Isle of Cyntrom. 

"It is a long voyage to Cyntrom,” said 
Ildrac, with a subtle smile. "Also, it is 
not our custom to permit guests to depart 
without having fully tasted the hospitality 
of the Isle of Uccastrog. Therefore, King 
Fulbra, I must beg you to curb your im¬ 
patience. We have much to show you 
here, and many diversions to offer. My 
chamberlains will now conduct you to a 
room befitting your royal rank. But first 
I must ask you to leave with me the sword 
that you carry at your side; for swords are 
often sharp—and I do not wish my guests 
to suffer injury by their own hands.” 


So Fulbra’s sword was taken from him 
by one of the palace guardsmen; and a 
small ruby-hilted dagger that he carried 
was also removed. Then several of the 
guards, hemming him in with their scythed 
weapons, led him from the hall and by 
many corridors and downward flights of 
stairs into the solid rock beneath the pal¬ 
ace. And he knew not whither his three 
slaves were taken, or what disposition was 
made of the captured crew of the galley. 
And soon he passed from the daylight 
into cavernous halls illumed by sulfur- 
colored flames in copper cressets; and all 
around him, in hidden chambers, he heard 
the sound of dismal moans and loud, 
maniacal howlings that seemed to beat 
and die upon adamantine doors. 

In one of these halls, Fulbra and his 
guardsmen met a young girl, fairer and 
less sullen of aspect than the others; and 
Fulbra thought that the girl smiled upon 
him compassionately as he went by; and 
it seemed that she murmured faintly in 
the language of Yoros: "Take heart, King 
Fulbra, for there is one who would help 
you.” And her words, apparently, were 
not heeded or understood by the guards, 
who knew only the harsh and hissing 
tongue of Uccastrog. 

After descending many stairs, they came 
to a ponderous door of bronze; and the 
door was unlocked by one of the guards, 
and Fulbra was compelled to enter; and 
the door clanged dolorously behind him. 

The chamber into which he had been 
thrust was walled on three sides with the 
dark stone of the island, and was walled 
on the fourth with heavy, unbreakable 
glass. Beyond the glass he saw the blue- 
green, glimmering waters of the under¬ 
sea, lit by the hanging cressets of the 
chamber; and in the waters were great 
devil-fish whose tentacles writhed along 
the wall; and huge pythonomorphs with 
fabulous golden coils receding in the 


368 


WEIRD TALES 


gloom; and the floating corpses of men 
that stared in upon him with eyeballs 
from which the lids had been excised. 

There was a couch in one corner of the 
dungeon, close to the wall of glass; and 
food and drink had been supplied for 
Fulbra in vessels of wood. The king laid 
himself down, weary and hopeless, with¬ 
out tasting the food. Then, lying with 
close-shut eyes while the dead men and 
the sea-monsters peered in upon him by 
the glare of the cressets, he strove to for¬ 
get his griefs and the dolorous doom that 
impended. And through his clouding 
terror and sorrow, he seemed to see the 
comely face of the girl who had smiled 
upon him compassionately, and who, alone 
of all that he had met in Uccastrog, had 
spoken to him with words of kindness. 
The face returned ever and anon, with a 
soft haunting, a gentle sorcery; and Fulbra 
felt, for the first time in many suns, the 
dim stirring of his buried youth and the 
vague, obscure desire of life. So, after a 
while, he slept; and the face of the girl 
came still before him in his dreams. 

The cressets burned above him with un¬ 
diminished flames when he awakened; 
and the sea beyond the wall of glass was 
thronged with the same monsters as be¬ 
fore, or with others of like kind. But 
amid the floating corpses he now beheld 
the flayed bodies of his own slaves, who, 
after being tortured by the island people, 
had been cast forth into the submarine 
cavern that adjoined his dungeon, so that 
he might see them on awakening. 

He sickened with new horror at the 
sight; but even as he stared at the dead 
faces, the door of bronze swung open with 
a sullen grinding, and his guards en¬ 
tered. Seeing that he had not consumed 
the food and water provided for him, they 
forced him to eat and drink a little, men¬ 
acing him with their broad, crooked blades 


till he complied. And then they led him 
from the dungeon and took him before 
King Ildrac, in the great hall of tortures. 

Fulbra saw, by the level golden light 
through the palace windows and the long 
shadows of the columns and machines of 
torment, that the time was early dawn. 
The hall was crowded with the Torturers 
and their women; and many seemed to 
look on while others, of both sexes, busied 
themselves with ominous preparations. 
And Fulbra saw that a tall brazen statue, 
with cruel and demonian visage, like some 
implacable god of the underworld, was 
now standing at the right hand of Ildrac 
where he sat aloft on his brazen chair. 

F ulbra was thrust forward by his 
guards, and Ildrac greeted him briefly, 
with a wily smile that preceded the words 
and lingered after them. And when Ildrac 
had spoken, the brazen image also began 
to speak, addressing Fulbra in the lan¬ 
guage of Yoros, with strident and metallic 
tones, and telling him with full and mi¬ 
nute circumstance the various infernal tor¬ 
tures to which he was to be subjected on 
that day. 

When the statue had done speaking. 
Fulbra heard a soft whisper in his ear, 
and saw beside him the fair girl whom 
he had previously met in the nether cor¬ 
ridors. And the girl, seemingly unheeded 
by the Torturers, said to him: "Be coura¬ 
geous, and endure bravely all that is in¬ 
flicted; for I shall effect your release be¬ 
fore another day, if this be possible.” 

Fulbra was cheered by the girl’s assur¬ 
ance; and it seemed to him that she was 
fairer to look upon than before; and he 
thought that her eyes regarded him ten¬ 
derly; and the twin desires of love and 
life were strangely resurrected in his heart, 
to fortify him against the tortures of Ii- 
drac. 


THE ISLE OF THE TORTURERS 


369 


Of that which was done to Fulbra for 
the wicked pleasure of King Ildrac and 
his people, it were not well to speak ful¬ 
ly. For the islanders of Uccastrog had 
designed innumerable torments, curious 
and subtle, wherewith to harry and ex¬ 
cruciate the five senses; and they could 
harry the brain itself, driving it to ex¬ 
tremes more terrible than madness; and 
could take away the dearest treasures of 
memory and leave unutterable foulness in 
their place. 

On that day, however, they did not tor¬ 
ture Fulbra to the uttermost. But they 
racked his ears with cacophonous sounds; 
with evil flutes that chilled the blood and 
curdled it upon his heart; with deep drums 
that seemed to ache in all his tissues; and 
thin tabors that wrenched his very bones. 
Then they compelled him to breathe the 
mounting fumes of braziers wherein the 
dried gall of dragons and the adipocere 
of dead cannibals were burned together 
with a fetid wood. Then, when the fire 
had died down, they freshened it with the 
oil of vampire-bats; and Fulbra swooned, 
unable to bear the fetor any longer. 

Later, they stripped away his kingly 
vestments and fastened about his body a 
silken girdle that had been freshly dipt 
in an acid corrosive only to human flesh; 
and the acid ate slowly, fretting his skin 
with infinite fiery pangs. 

Then, after removing the girdle lest it 
slay him, the Torturers brought in certain 
creatures that had the shape of ell-long 
serpents, but were covered from head to 
tail with sable hairs like those of a cater¬ 
pillar. And these creatures twined them¬ 
selves tightly about the arms and legs of 
Fulbra; and though he fought wildly in 
his revulsion, he could not loosen them 
with his hands; and the hairs that covered 
their constringent coils began to pierce his 
limbs like a million tiny needles, till he 
W. T.—7 


screamed with the agony. And when his 
breath failed him and he could scream 
no longer, the hairy serpents were induced 
to relinquish their hold by a languorous 
piping of which the islanders knew the 
secret. They dropped away and left him; 
but the mark of their coils was imprinted 
redly about his limbs; and around his 
body there burned the raw branding of 
the girdle. 

King Ildrac and his people looked on 
with a dreadful gloating; for in such 
things they took their joy, and strove to 
pacify an implacable obscure desire. But 
seeing now that Fulbra could endure no 
more, and wishing to wreak their will 
upon him for many future days, they took 
him back to his dungeon. 

I ying sick with remembered horror, fev- 
J erish with pain, he longed not for the 
clemency of death, but hoped for the com¬ 
ing of the girl to release him as she had 
promised. The long hours passed with a 
half-delirious tedium; and the cressets, 
whose flames had been changed to crim¬ 
son, appeared to fill his eyes with flowing 
blood; and the dead man and the sea- 
monsters swam as if in blood beyond the 
wall of glass. And the girl came not; and 
Fulbra had begun to despair. Then, at 
last, he heard the door open gently and 
not with the harsh clangor that had pro¬ 
claimed the entrance of his guards. 

Turning, he saw the girl, who stole 
swiftly to his couch with a lifted finger¬ 
tip, enjoining silence. She told him with 
soft whispers that her plan had failed; 
but surely on the following night she 
would be able to drug the guards and ob¬ 
tain the keys of the outer gates; and Ful¬ 
bra could escape from the palace to a hid¬ 
den cove in which a boat with water and 
provisions lay ready for his use. She 
prayed him to endure for another day the 


370 


WEIRD TALES 


torments of Ildrac; and to this, perforce, 
he consented. And he thought that the 
girl loved him; for tenderly she caressed 
his feverous brow, and rubbed his torture- 
burning limbs with a soothing ointment. 
He deemed that her eyes were soft with 
a compassion that was more than pity. So 
Fulbra believed the girl and trusted her, 
and took heart against the horror of the 
coming day. Her name, it seemed, was 
Ilvaa; and her mother was a woman of 
Yoros who had married one of the evil 
islanders, choosing this repugnant union 
as an alternative to the Haying-knives of 
Ildrac. 

Too soon the girl went away, pleading 
the great danger of discovery, and closed 
the door softly upon Fulbra. And after 
a while the king slept; and Ilvaa returned 
to him amid the delirious abominations 
of his dreams, and sustained him against 
the terror of strange hells. 

At dawn the guards came with their 
hooked weapons, and led him again be¬ 
fore Ildrac. And again the brazen, de¬ 
moniac statue, in a strident voice, an¬ 
nounced the fearful ordeals that he was to 
undergo. And this time he saw that other 
captives, including the crew and merchants 
of the galley, were also awaiting the ma¬ 
lefic ministrations of the Torturers in the 
vast hall. 

Once more in the throng of watchers 
the girl Ilvaa pressed close to him, un¬ 
reprimanded by his guards, and mur¬ 
mured words of comfort; so that Fulbra 
was enheartened against the enormities 
foretold by the brazen oracular image. 
And indeed a bold and hopeful heart was 
required to endure the ordeals of that 
day. . . . 

Among other things less goodly to be 
mentioned, the Torturers held before Ful¬ 
bra a mirror of strange wizardry, wherein 
his own face was reflected as if seen after 
death. The rigid features, as he gazed 


upon them, became marked with the green 
and bluish marbling of corruption; and 
the withering flesh fell in on the sharp 
bones, and displayed the visible fretting 
of the worm. Hearing meanwhile the 
dolorous groans and agonizing cries of his 
fellow-captives all about the hall, he be¬ 
held other faces, dead, swollen, lidless and 
flayed, that seemed to approach from be¬ 
hind and to throng about his own face in 
the mirror. Their looks were dank and 
dripping, like the hair of corpses recov¬ 
ered from the sea; and sea-weed was min¬ 
gled with the locks. Then, turning at a 
cold and clammy touch, he found that 
these faces were no illusion but the actual 
reflection of cadavers from the under-sea 
by a malign sorcery, that had entered the 
hall of Ildrac like living men and were 
peering over his shoulder. 

His own slaves, with flesh that the sea- 
things had gnawed even to the bone, were 
among them. And the slaves came toward 
him with glaring eyes that saw only the 
voidness of death. And beneath the sor- 
cerous control of Ildrac, their evilly ani¬ 
mated corpses began to assail Fulbra, 
clawing at his face and raiment with half- 
eaten fingers. And Fulbra, faint with 
loathing, struggled againsthis dead slaves, 
who knew not the voice of their master 
and were deaf as the wheels and racks of 
torment used by Ildrac. . . . 

A non the drowned and dripping 
b corpses went away; and Fulbra was 
stripped by the Torturers and was laid 
supine on the palace floor, with iron rings 
that bound him closely to the flags at 
knee and wrist, at elbow and ankle. Then 
they brought in the disinterred body of a 
woman, nearly eaten, in which a myriad 
maggots swarmed on the uncovered bones 
and tatters of dark corruption; and this 
body they placed on the right hand of 
Fulbra. And also they fetched the car- 


THE ISLE OF THE TORTURERS 


371 


rion of a black goat that was newly 
touched with beginning decay; and they 
laid it down beside him on the left hand. 
Then, across Fulbra, from right to left, 
the hungry maggots crawled in a long and 
undulant wave. . . . 

After the consummation of this torture, 
there came many others that were equally 
ingenious and atrocious, and were well 
designed for the delectation of King II- 
drac and his people. And Fulbra endured 
the tortures valiantly, upheld by the 
thought of Ilvaa. 

Vainly, however, on the night that fol- 
-lowed this day, he waited in his dungeon 
for the girl. The cressets burned with a 
bloodier crimson; and new corpses were 
among the flayed and floating dead in the 
sea-cavern; and strange double-bodied ser¬ 
pents of the nether deep arose with an 
endless squirming; and their horned 
heads appeared to bloat immeasurably 
against the crystal wall. Yet the girl Ilvaa 
came not to free him as she had prom¬ 
ised; and the night passed. But though 
despair resumed its old dominion in the 
heart of Fulbra, and terror came with 
talons steeped in fresh venom, he refused 
to doubt Ilvaa, telling himself that she 
had been delayed or prevented by some 
unforeseen mishap. 

At dawn of the third day, he was again 
taken before Ildrac. The brazen image, 
announcing the ordeals of the day, told 
him that he was to be bound on a wheel 
of adamant; and, lying on the wheel, was 
to drink a drugged wine that would steal 
away his royal memories for ever, and 
would conduct his naked soul on a long 
pilgrimage through monstrous and infa¬ 
mous hells before bringing it back to the 
hall of Ildrac and the broken body on the 
wheel. 

Then certain women of the Torturers, 
laughing obscenely, came forward and 


bound King Fulbra to the adamantine 
wheel with thongs of dragon-gut. And 
after they had done this, the girl Ilvaa, 
smiling with the shameless exultation of 
open cruelty, appeared before Fulbra and 
stood close beside him, holding a golden 
cup that contained the drugged wine. She 
mocked him for his folly and credulity in 
trusting her promises; and the other 
women and the male Torturers, even to 
Ildrac on his brazen seat, laughed loudly 
and evilly at Fulbra, and praised Ilvaa for 
the perfidy she had practised upon him. 

So Fulbra’s heart grew sick with a dark¬ 
er despair than any he had yet known. 
The brief, piteous love that had been 
born amid sorrow and agony perished 
within him, leaving but ashes steeped in 
gall. Yet, gazing at Ilvaa with sad eyes, 
he uttered no word of reproach. He 
wished to live no longer; and yearning 
for swift death, he bethought him of the 
wizard ringofVemdeez and of that which 
Vemdeez had said would follow its re¬ 
moval from his finger. He still wore the 
ring, which the Torturers had deemed a 
bauble of small value. But his hands were 
bound tightly to the wheel, and he could 
not remove it. So, with a bitter cunning, 
knowing full well that the islanders 
would not take away the ring if he should 
offer it to them, he feigned a sudden mad¬ 
ness and cried wildly: 

"Steal my memories, if ye will, with 
your accursed wine—and send me through 
a thousand hells and bring me back again 
to Uccastrog: but take not the ring that I 
wear on my middle finger; for it is more 
precious to me than many kingdoms or 
the pale breasts of love.” 

H earing this, King Ildrac rose from 
his brazen seat; and bidding Ilvaa 
to delay the administration of the wine, 
he came forward and inspected curiously 


372 


WEIRD TALES 


the ring of Vemdeez, which gleamed 
darkly, set with its rayless gem, on Ful- 
bra’s finger. And all the while, Fulbra 
cried out against him in a frenzy, as if 
fearing that he would take the ring. 

So Ildrac, deeming that he could plague 
the prisoner thereby and could heighten 
his suffering a little, did the very thing 
for which Fulbra had planned. And the 
ring came easily from the shrunken fin¬ 
ger; and Ildrac, wishing to mock the royal 
captive, placed it on his own middle digit. 

Then, while Ildrac regarded the cap¬ 
tive with a more deeply graven smile of 
evil on the pale, gilded mask of his face, 
there came to King Fulbra of Yoros the 
dreadful and longed-for thing. The Silver 
Death, that had slept so long in his body 
beneath the magical abeyance of the ring 
of Vemdeez, was made manifest even as 
he hung on the adamantine wheel. His 
limbs stiffened with another rigor than 
that of agony; and his face shone brightly 
with the coming of the Death; and so he 
died. 

Then, to Ilvaa and to many of the Tor¬ 
turers who stood wondering about the 
wheel, the chill and instant contagion of 
the Silver Death was communicated. They 
fell even where they had stood; and the 
pestilence remained like a glittering light 
on the faces and hands of the men and 
shone forth from the nude bodies of the 


women. And the plague passed along the 
immense hall; and the other captives of 
King Ildrac were released thereby from 
their various torments; and the Torturers 
found surcease from the dire longing that 
they could assuage only through the pain 
of their fellow-men. And through all the 
palace, and throughout the Isle of Uccas- 
trog, the Death flew swiftly, visible in 
those upon whom it had breathed, but 
otherwise unseen and impalpable. 

But Ildrac, wearing the ring of Vem¬ 
deez, was immune. And guessing not the 
reason of his immunity, he beheld with 
consternation the doom that had over¬ 
taken his followers, and watched in stu¬ 
pefaction the freezing of his victims. 
Then, fearful of some inimic sorcery, he 
rushed from the hall; and standing in the 
early sun on a palace-terrace above the 
sea, he tore the ring of Vemdeez from 
his finger and hurled it to the foamy bil¬ 
lows far below, deeming in his terror that 
the ring was perhaps the source or agent 
of the unknown hostile magic. 

So Ildrac, in his turn, when all the 
others had fallen, was smitten by the Sil¬ 
ver Death; and its peace descended upon 
him where he lay in his robes of blood- 
brightened purple, with features shining 
palely to the unclouded sun. And ob¬ 
livion claimed the Isle of Uccastrog; and 
the Torturers were one with the tortured. 













"Richardson drew in a deep 
breath, with his face directly 
over the bowl." 


o/ /fkkar s Moth 

By PAUL ERNST 

A tale of the amazing and horrible thing that 
happened to the railroad lawyer, there in the 
old man’s shack, with a great white moth beat¬ 
ing its wings against the kerosene lamp 


“ITT WAS a horrible thing,” said 
I Malcolm in a low tone. "And the 
*“■ fact that I know so little of what 
really happened makes it seem all the 
more horrible.” 

We were speaking of the fate of Rich¬ 
ardson, a man who had been to school 
with us. Several years had passed since 
I’d seen Malcolm; several years since I’d 
left my home town. Now that I’d re¬ 


turned for a visit, I wanted to get caught 
up on all the local happenings. 

Particularly I wanted to find out what 
had happened to Richardson. I’d saved 
him till the last, however; with half my 
interest centering on what Malcolm was 
saying about other old schoolmates, and 
the other half absorbed by the haunting 
tale told by the newspaper clipping that 
was even at that moment in my pocket. 

373 . 










374 


WEIRD TALES 


Now I had asked directly concerning 
him. And Malcolm—had answered! 

"A horrible thing,” he repeated. His 
face twitched with a minor nervous dis¬ 
order—something new for him; he’d 
never owned to a nerve in the years I 
knew him before. "Simply unbelievable. 
And yet, I’m afraid I believe it. I’ve 
never told any one about it. I’ll tell you, 
though. Perhaps you’ll laugh. . . 

But at no time during his low-toned 
conversation that evening did I have the 
slightest desire to laugh—unless it were 
hysterically. When I had heard him to 
the end I felt I should never laugh 
again. At anything! 

A s you and I have often agreed [said 
>■ Malcolm], Blaine Richardson could 
have gone to the city and made a brilliant 
career in law. He was bom with a legal 
mind, I think, and no man had better 
schooling and training. 

But, as you know, he decided to stay 
here in this little town of ours. Wasting 
his talents, most folks said. But he liked 
it here and turned down offers from the 
city. 

Of course, a mind like his set down in 
this small place was bound to shine high 
in a hurry. Shortly after you left here he 
was retained by the Darlington Railroad 
to handle all their law cases in this part 
of the country. Other important people 
turned their business over to him. In 
about a year and a half, so fast did he 
grow, he found himself one of the big 
men of our town. 

But it was his work for the Darling¬ 
ton Railroad, in an indirect sort of way, 
that finished him. 

You remember old Akkar, who used to 
live down by the swamp alongside the 
Darlington spur? Some said he was Ar¬ 
menian, and some insisted he was Persian. 
But no one knew anything about him save 


that they were morally sure he’d come 
here from somewhere in the Orient. 

Well, old Akkar, long white beard and 
shabby white hair and all, tangled with 
the Darlington Railroad. You wouldn’t 
think one old man, poor as dirt and sup¬ 
posedly half-witted, could interfere much 
in the workings of a big railroad cor¬ 
poration, would you? But Akkar did! 

You remember his reputation. He was 
said to have the Evil Eye, all that sort of 
rot. Folks from the back country used to 
cross themselves when they passed him. 
The kids were all afraid of him, though 
they jeered him behind his back. We 
used to laugh at the ignorance of those 
who feared him. But there were a lot 
of them who did; and over them old Ak¬ 
kar seemed to have an evil sort of power. 

The start of the whole business was a 
silly little thing. The Darlington used to 
let gondolas of coal lie over on the siding 
next Akkar’s shack by the swamp; and 
Akkar used to keep his rusty old stove 
in fuel from those cars. Then one day 
the division superintendent decided there 
was no reason why Akkar should help 
himself to several tons of company coal 
every year. He made a formal complaint 
and a deputy was sent to Akkar’s place. 

The deputy never would say much 
about what had happened when he went 
into Akkar’s shack on his errand. Ap¬ 
parently the old hermit had managed to 
throw an awful scare into him. How¬ 
ever, Akkar stopped taking coal and it 
was thought the little affair was over. 
But it wasn’t over. And what had started 
as a small affair, instigated by a peevish 
division superintendent, became a terribly 
big affair. 

As you’ll remember, the Darlington 
was building a small railroad yard here 
at that time. They had perhaps a hun¬ 
dred men, mainly Mexicans and cheap 
labor from the hills, working on the 
tracks. 


AKKAR’S MOTH 


375 


Suddenly, a short time after the coal 
business, they began to have trouble with 
these laborers. There was no open strike, 
but things went badly. Little things. It 
seemed that nothing could be done right 
the first time. Everything had to be done 
over—and sometimes over again. In no 
time they found themselves ’way behind 
their schedule. 

The Darlington people set their de¬ 
tective on the affair. The detective trailed 
one of the men, a big hillman, to Akkar’s 
hut one night, and there he heard Akkar 
give him orders to set fire to a carload 
of ties. He was to soak them with gaso¬ 
line which Akkar would supply. 

This was penitentiary stuff. But the 
Darlington didn’t want to put an old 
and apparently feeble man behind bars. 

The milk of human kindness isn’t often 
found in big corporations. It seems 
ironical that in this, one of the few cases 
on record, it could have been so mis¬ 
placed. Pity for Akkar! That white- 
bearded, rheumy-eyed old fiend! 

The division superintendent took the 
affair up with Richardson. Would he 
please see Akkai, unofficially, and warn 
him to stop stirring up trouble among 
the men? 

Richardson would. At the first oppor¬ 
tunity. 

I ’ll never forget the night he whistled 
to me from the sidewalk—I was sit¬ 
ting on the porch here after dinner—and 
asked me if I wanted to go wizard-hunt¬ 
ing. 

"Wizard-hunting?” I repeated. 

“Yes. Old Akkar’s supposed to be a 
first-class magician, isn’t he? And I’m on 
my way to his shack to pull his claws. 
Want to come along?” 

There he stood, on the sidewalk by 
the gate, six feet or more tall, with his 
deep-set, rather cold gray eyes and his 
heavy, black hair—he was bareheaded as 


usual. Only twenty-eight, but a powerful 
and commanding figure. It seemed a lit¬ 
tle ridiculous that such a man should be 
set on a frail, aged hermit. 

I guess it seemed that way to Richard¬ 
son himself, for he said, as I joined him: 

"I’m going easy on the old fellow. 
We don’t want to make trouble for him, 
only he’s got to stop making trouble 
among the Darlington laborers.” 

"How are you going to handle him?” 
I asked. 

We started down the street, toward 
the outskirts of town. It was a nice 
night, and the distance to the hut was 
only half a mile or so. No use driving. 

"Threaten him with a ninety-day sen¬ 
tence in the workhouse if he doesn’t quit 
scaring the men into doing his dirty work 
for him,” Richardson replied. "That 
ought to put him in his place.” 

We walked along, in the comfortable 
silence possible between old friends. We 
got to the end of the street, down by the 
sawmill, and strode out on the gravel 
back-road that leads down to the swamp 
and the spur track where Akkar had 
built his patchy shack. 

Over the horizon swung a yellow 
moon, big as a pumpkin. Trees and 
bushes lined the road now, and the wind 
sifted through them with a sighing sound. 

"Just the night for bats and lost souls 
to go moaning about, eh?” Richardson 
laughed. 

I looked at the moon, and I listened 
to the rattling tree-leaves. And you know, 
just the faintest chill feeling touched my 
spine. I think I laughed louder than I 
need have as I answered: 

"Better not speak too jokingly of lost 
souls, old man. 'There are more things 
in heaven and on earth-’ ” 

"Pshaw!” said Richardson lightly. 

But you know how he was. Not a 
nerve in his body. Cold and clear of 
thought and intellect. 


376 


WEIRD TALES 


Some crazy impulse led me to go on 
with it. 

“Akkar has the reputation of being 
very learned in the Black Arts. Ask any 
of the old women living around here. He 
might send you up in a puff of vapor if 
you come meddling with his affairs.” 

"You don't say,” Richardson yawned. 

"Remember the time he got annoyed 
at Hutch, the dairy man, and made all 
his cream sour three nights running?” 

Richardson grinned. 

"And remember the time he cast his 
evil eye on that cow of Macey’s—and the 
cow had a two-headed calf?” 

Richardson’s grin broadened. 

“And look at what happened to Mrs. 
Jensen’s baby. She irritated old Akkar 
and he made it dumb for three months!” 

We both burst out laughing. Laughing! 
It was like two lunatics laughing as they 
stood on the edge of a bottomless abyss 
with one more step to take them over 
and down into blade depths. But we 
laughed—and went on. 

I t was quite dark when we got to Ak- 
kar’s shack. We stood a moment, eye¬ 
ing it from the road. 

The old man wasn’t much of a car¬ 
penter. You wondered, as you looked at 
this hovel of his that was made from tags 
of lumber from the sawmill and sheets 
of rusted galvanized iron discarded by 
the Darlington supplies department, how 
on earth it managed to stand up. 

"Now there,” said Richardson joking¬ 
ly, “is real proof that the old man is a 
wizard of the first order. If he weren’t, 
his confounded shack would blow over 
in a summer zephyr.” 

We started across the rubbish-littered 
yard toward the "door” of the place, 
which was nothing but another rusted 
sheet of iron which Akkar propped 
against the entrance when he wanted to 
close it. 


“He’s home, all right,” muttered 
Richardson, pointing. 

I saw it too. A light, shining mistily 
behind the burlap that hung down as a 
curtain over the shack’s one window. 

We walked to the door, stumbling 
over tin cans and refuse. Richardson 
knocked on the rusted iron sheet. 

"Who knocks?” 

A thin and quavering voice, almost as 
high as a woman’s. We heard movement 
behind the iron door; shaky footsteps. 

"Who knocks?” 

Richardson grimaced. It was distaste¬ 
ful, this whole affair—threatening a se¬ 
nile old man who was alone in the world 
and had nothing but this shack to shelter 
him. But the business had to be done. 

"It’s Blaine Richardson, Akkar. I’d 
like to speak to you a moment.” 

“Ah! Richardson!” 

Was it my imagination that a touch 
of ferocity lay in the high, cracking voice 
—that the s in the name was drawn out 
in a sibilant, exultant way? 

The iron sheet was painfully tugged 
aside. In the doorway, framed by yellow 
light from an old kerosene lamp, stood 
Akkar. 

You remember how Akkar looked, of 
course, from seeing him on the street. 
But he was different tonight, visited in 
his own home! 

His bent, gnarled body was covered 
by a black robe of some cheap stuff. On 
it he had crudely sewed stars and crescent 
moons of equally cheap tinsel. I’ve no 
doubt that in daylight the costume would 
have brought a smile; but in that feeble 
yellow light it looked rather impressive, 
with his scant white hair seeming almost 
like a blasphemous halo, and his white 
beard cascading half-way to his waist. 

"There are two of you,” said Akkar, 
almost with accusation. "Is it that you 
were afraid to see me alone, Mr. Rich¬ 
ardson?” 


AKKAR’S MOTH 


377 


"Hardly,” said Richardson with a tol¬ 
erant smile. "But you wouldn’t blame me 
at that, if I thought I needed some pro¬ 
tection, would you? After all, your repu¬ 
tation. . . 

Akkar bowed, as though the compli¬ 
ment had been sincere instead of rooted 
in jest. 

"You might well need protection, Mr. 
Richardson—you who come to fight with 
me.” 

"How do you know I come to fight? 
I’m quite sure we’ve never met or spoken. 
And I’m quite sure the Darlington peo¬ 
ple didn’t send you an advance notice of 
my visit.” 

I was surprized at the question. Surely 
no imagination was needed to tell Akkar 
that a fight was coming. Everybody knew 
Richardson’s connection with the rail¬ 
road. But then I understood. Richard¬ 
son, for his own amusement probably, 
was giving the old man a chance to show 
off his alleged mystical powers. And 
Akkar took the chance. Cleverly! 

"I know all things,” he said. "My 
moths tell me.” 

With that, he stepped aside, both as 
an invitation for us to enter and to let 
us see what he was talking about. 

M y eyes went first to that which al¬ 
ways attracts the gaze in darkness 
—the light. And I saw something flutter¬ 
ing about the mantle of the kerosene 
lamp. A moth. A pure white moth, gi¬ 
gantic in size, probably four inches in 
wing-spread. 

Richardson chuckled as we stepped 
into the room. 

"A variation on the bat idea,” he said 
in an undertone. "Moths instead. Good. 
Though bats would look more grue¬ 
some. ...” 

Low as the words were, Akkar’s old 
ears caught them. 

"I can see, Mr. Richardson, that you 


and your friend are not to be taken in by 
my poor display,” he said. "But sit 
down, pray.” 

I rather marveled at his command of 
English, he who had so obviously hailed 
from some far corner of the Orient. It 
was a little stiff, but it was excellent 
nevertheless. The man had a mind, it 
seemed. 

The interior of the shack was as poor¬ 
ly furnished as you might have imagined 
it to be. There was an old pine table in 
the center, on which was the lamp. There 
was a broken-backed kitchen chair near 
it; and farther off, in the shadows, was a 
discarded easy-chair with the stuffing 
coming out in half a dozen places. 

Richardson sat on the kitchen chair. 
Somewhat gingerly, I started to sit in the 
easy-chair. . . . 

There was a wailing shriek. I started, 
and jumped up. But it was only a cat, 
which had been curled in the seat of the 
chair and hidden from me by the shadow 
of the arm. 

"A black cat, by George!” exclaimed 
Richardson. "This is perfect.” 

My gaze went up from the big black 
cat, which stood beside Akkar and spat 
at us while with glaring yellow eyes it 
watched us, to the white moth that flut¬ 
tered about the lamp, and then to the 
rather tawdry, star-spangled black robe 
Akkar had on. 

It was too perfect, I thought. Cheap 
and theatrical. But even as I thought it, 
Akkar spoke. 

"I use these things in my business, 
gentlemen,” he said, humbly, as though to 
admit at -once that he knew we would 
not be moved by the stage props. "As 
you may know, I sometimes tell a for¬ 
tune. It helps me live.” 

Was the man a mind-reader? I de¬ 
cided not. He had simply caught the 
question in our eyes. But he was smart, 
all right; much smarter than one would 


WEIRD TALES 


378 

have thought just from seeing him go 
mumbling around the streets. 

I could see now why he would have 
so much power over the ignorant Dar¬ 
lington track laborers. I guess Richard¬ 
son saw it, too, for he abruptly got down 
to business. 

"Akkar, I’ve come to tell you that you 
must stop making trouble with the rail¬ 
road construction men. Yes, must. If 
you don’t, you’ll find yourself in serious 
trouble.” 

Akkar looked at that moment like a 
wily, white-bearded fox. 

"How is it thought that I make trou¬ 
ble?” he evaded. 

"It isn’t thought,” responded Richard¬ 
son tartly. "It is known.” He smiled 
coldly. "Your telltale moths don’t seem 
to be always on the job, Akkar. For in¬ 
stance, the other night they didn’t tell 
you that a company detective was hiding 
out beyond your window, and that he 
heard you order a laborer to set fire to 
some ties.” 

Akkar only shrugged. 

"Sometimes I am careless, Mr. Rich¬ 
ardson,” was all he said. 

"You’ve been too careless, for too 
long,” said Richardson. "In your talk, I 
mean. I repeat, you must stop making 
trouble.” 

"If I don’t?” 

The old body seemed to swell with 
hidden strength. The old eyes—have I 
said that, though they looked black us¬ 
ually, they seemed to flash at times with 
a greenish fire?—glowed with defiance. 

“If I don’t, Mr. Richardson?” 

“If you don’t, we’ll have to send you 
to jail. And we can do it, with the testi¬ 
mony of the detective.” 

"You couldn’t—if the man died of 
some strange disease.” 

The old man’s voice was calm and 
low. But for the second time that night 
I felt a chill creep along my spine. 


It was oppressively hot in the shack. 
The heat, I thought, had made me a lit¬ 
tle dizzy. Anyway, the black cat, as I 
glanced at it, seemed to grow enormously. 
And the white moth, banging with faint 
thuds against the glass mantle of the 
lamp, seemed to turn and stare at me 
with beady black eyes. 

“Save that talk for somebody else,” 
said Richardson, in his cold, emotionless 
voice. "The detective will live to testify, 
all right, and you’ll be put behind bars.” 

“But think how it would look,” Akkar 
said, oilily spreading his palms. Was he 
pleading, as he seemed to be—or was 
there mockery in his voice? "A great rail¬ 
road—persecuting an old and lonely man. 
It might be made into a very scandalous 
affair, Mr. Richardson.” 

And this was the man most folks in 
our town thought was half-witted! 

It was a good, keen thrust. But Rich¬ 
ardson sat unmoved. As a clever lawyer, 
he would of course try to go around the 
obstacle of threatened adverse public 
opinion. But I knew—and Akkar must 
have known, too—that if the provocation 
were big enough, public opinion could go 
to the devil! 

"The railroad would not have to ap¬ 
pear in the case, in any event,” said Rich¬ 
ardson. And a new note in his voice told 
me that he had re-measured this opponent, 
found him worthy of serious attention, 
and was moving accordingly. "I could 
have you run out of town for pretending 
to be what you’re not.” 

"And that is?” murmured Akkar, his 
white eyebrows lifting. 

“A wizard! A magician! Faugh! Think 
of such faking going on in the Twentieth 
Century!” 

"Faking?” said Akkar. "Well, perhaps 
it is.” 

More and more I was distrusting the 
humility in that old voice. Akkar did not 
feel humble. I could sense that. Some- 


AKKAR’S MOTH 


379 


how, power seemed to fill that bent old 
frame, and every moment I was wishing 
more heartily that we were away from 
there. Not for anything on earth would 
I have admitted it—then—but I was 
beginning to feel that we were in some 
sort of danger. Frightful danger! 

"But, Mr. Richardson,” said Akkar 
with a thin smile, "the public always likes 
to be fooled. I doubt if you could run me 
out of town because I pretend to super¬ 
natural powers.” 

"I think I could. But we’ll let that pass, 
too, and go on to still a third count 
against you. That is—fortune-telling. 
There’s a law against that, in this state, in 
case you don’t know it.” 

Akkar sighed. 

"Perhaps you could win on that point,” 
he admitted. 

I sat up straighter. Even Richardson 
started a little. It was too easy. As I 
say, power fairly radiated from the man 
as you sat longer and longer in his pres¬ 
ence. Power, and a certain impression of 
ominous intelligence. And now he was 
giving in without further struggle. 

"Then you will stop interfering with 
the Darlington Railroad construction 
work?” 

"Yes,” said Akkar. 

"And you will quit troubling the men 
by calling them here and playing on their 
superstitions with your silly magician’s 
tricks?” 

"Yes.” 

"I have that as a promise, then, with 
my friend Malcolm Davis as witness?” 
"You have,” said Akkar. 

"Good.” Richardson started briskly to 
rise. But the old man held out his hand. 
"On one condition, Mr. Richardson!” 
Richardson sank back onto the chair. 
"So there’s a catch in it, Akkar? Well, 
what is it?” 


Akkar’s bent shoulders seemed to 
straighten. The hawk nose above the 
white beard compressed at the nostrils. 
Did I see raw hate flaming from his 
greenish eyes? I thought I did! 

"Your company has persecuted me, an 
old man, Mr. Richardson. Because of a 
few lumps of coal-” 

"Three or four tons in the course of a 
winter, Akkar,” Richardson cut in. But 
the old man ignored him. 

"-because of a few lumps of coal, 

you have persecuted me. And it is not 
safe for any group of men—or any man 
they may employ, such as yourself—to 
persecute Akkar!” 

The man straightened yet more, and 
twenty years seemed to drop from his 
aged shoulders. As though in time with 
his thoughts, his monstrous black cat spat 
at us again. It was very eery. 

"Yet will I do as you wish,” Akkar 
went on, "if in return you will do some¬ 
thing for me.” 

"About the coal?” Richardson guessed. 
"Oh, all right. I’ll keep you in coal out of 
my own pocket, simply to avoid a fuss.” 

"I am not speaking of the coal, Mr. 
Richardson. It is in regard to a smaller 
matter. A trifling matter.” 

Silence, while we waited for him to go 
on. He seemed to loom over us. The 
black of his robe, as I stared at it, ap¬ 
peared to take on bottomless depths, as 
though suddenly I were staring not at 
fabric but into the black sky itself, 
studded with stars and crescent moons. 

Silence, while a faint, agitated squeak¬ 
ing came from the white moth at the 
lamp. The thing left the light and darted 
toward the window. And now a curious 
thing happened. 

A single syllable cracked from Akkar’s 
lips. A word in some language I’d never 
heard before. 


380 


WEIRD TALES 


The white moth stopped its dash 
toward the window, and headed back for 
the lamp. Submissively? In active obedi¬ 
ence to the flashing look in Akkar’s eyes 
and the single syllable? God knows; I 
don’t. But the moth did act as though 
possessed. 

Richardson glanced at me, and smiled. 
"Always the showman,” that look said to 
me. But I did not smile back. 

"The favor you wanted?” Richardson 
reminded Akkar. 

The old man’s piercing eyes left the 
white moth. He nodded. 

"Ah, yes. The favor. It is simply this. 
You have made several accusations tonight 
concerning my powers. I am no magician, 
you say. I am a cheat, fooling ignorant 
people only. Now I do not say, in so 
many words, that you are wrong. But I 
do desire permission to show you a few 
of my tricks-” 

"To prove that you are a wizard?” 
snorted Richardson, interrupting bluntly. 
"Save your time, my friend.” 

"It is a little thing to ask.” The humil¬ 
ity in Akkar’s tone! The submissiveness! 
But—what a look in his eyes! 

"Sorry, I haven’t time,” said Richard¬ 
son curtly. Again he started to rise. But 
again Akkar held up his hand. 

"You will grant me the favor, Mr. 
Richardson, or the trouble among your 
men will continue—and you can take such 
legal steps against me as you please!” 

Richardson frowned. 

"This seems to be a moment when sur¬ 
render is in order,” he said lightly. “All 
right, Akkar. Set about your work. Give 
me a lesson in Black Magic.” 

Now something happened that left me 
ashamed for quite awhile. I couldn’t help 
it, though. To save my life I could not 
have repressed the move; it sprang from 
some deep-rooted instinct that knew far 
more than my brain did. 


"No!” I cried, springing to my feet. 
"No, Richardson! Don’t let him-” 

Then I realized what I was saying, and 
how I was acting. I sat down, with a 
sheepish smile on my lips. But I was 
trembling a little. I don’t mind admitting 
that—now. 

"Are you crazy, Malcolm?” said Rich¬ 
ardson, staring. “Of course I’ll let him do 
what he pleases. Why not?” 

Well, I didn’t know why not. All I 
knew was that, in spite of all reason and 
logic, I felt suddenly sick to the soul. And 
when the white moth, abruptly leaving 
the lamp and flying almost into my eyes, 
as though the thing hated me, bumped 
into my cheek, it was all I could do to 
choke down a scream. 

"Are you going to tell my fortune, 
Akkar?” Richardson asked. "Or are you 
going to make an orange tree sprout up 
out of the floor?” 

Akkar smiled. And the light in his 
eyes seemed to match in feline hatred the 
light in the golden eyes of the cat. 

"Those are little things, Mr. Richard¬ 
son. I shall do a greater. But your friend, 
he seems nervous. Would he perhaps 
care to step outside for a few minutes?” 

Akkar gazed squarely at me, and the 
impact of his gaze came with a physical 
shock. Until this moment he had concen¬ 
trated all his attention on Richardson. 
Now I got the full force of his personality 
for an instant, and I was shaken. 

There was a definite command in the 
green-glinting dark eyes of Akkar. He 
was ordering— willing —me to leave the 
shack. At least, so I thought; and later 
the thought was confirmed. I could see 
how Akkar would have been very glad if 
I had gone away from that place for 
awhile. The fact that, in a few moments, 
he went right ahead with his devil’s work 
in spite of my presence as a material wit- 


AKKAR’S MOTH 


381 


ness, only shows how sure he was that my 
testimony later could do him no harm. 
And events proved him right. . . . 

Richardson laughed. "Want to step 
outside and sniff the clean evening 
breeze?” he said to me. 

I did want to. Whether my intuitions 
are more sensitive than his were, or 
whether his will was firmer than mine, I 
don’t know. But I do know that he was 
far less perturbed than I was. With all 
my heart I wanted to get out of that place. 
I am rather proud of myself that I did 
not. 

"I’ll stick around,” I said, as calmly as 
I could. But Akkar’s thin lips writhed as 
he turned from me. He knew the panic 
in my heart, all right! 

"What particular demonstration of the 
Black Arts are you going to stage for 
me?” persisted Richardson. 

"That of second sight,” said Akkar. 
He said it quickly, glibly. The words 
came too easily, I thought vaguely, to be 
words of truth. "I shall show you things 
few men have seen, and when I am fin¬ 
ished you can think of my powers what 
you please.” 

"Second sight it is,” said Richardson 
gayly. "I am in your hands, Akkar.” 

A t these words, as though at a signal, 
- the big white moth left the lamp¬ 
light again. It darted to Akkar, circled 
once around his head, then sped on silent 
wings to Richardson and repeated the per¬ 
formance. 

"Ay, my little white beauty,” Akkar 
purred. "It would make friends with 
you, Mr. Richardson.” 

His senile, cracked laugh rang out in 
the room. I bit my lip at the sound of it. 
Richardson frowned. 

"Get on with it, please, Akkar.” 

"Very well,” the old man said. "I 
will. The second sight, servant of people 


who have persecuted me, is about to be 
yours.” 

He started moving about his place, 
then; and my eyes followed apprehensive¬ 
ly his every move. Later I could recon¬ 
struct the scene detail by detail. And a 
lot of good it did! 

He got a dirty piece of wrapping-paper 
from a cupboard and spread it over the 
bare table. On this he set a cracked earth¬ 
enware bowl. Then he began collecting 
withered, evil-looking herbs from various 
corners of the room. Some were familiar 
to me, some were not. All came, I think, 
from the swamp across the road from 
his hut. 

He crushed the dry and brittle herbs 
to fragments, while Richardson and I 
watched him intently. He put the result¬ 
ing debris into the earthenware bowl, and 
added a colorless fluid from a tin can. 

"Just a minute,” snapped Richardson. 
"The dried weeds are harmless enough, I 
guess, but what is that other stuff?” 

"It is but water, Mr. Richardson,” 
murmured Akkar. "Will you taste it?” 

He offered the can to me. I shrank 
away, instinctively. 

"It is safe enough to taste,” said Akkar, 
smiling his oily smile. "Would I dare let 
harm come to you in my own home?” 

At that, I tasted; and found it was in¬ 
deed plain water. At least, if any foreign 
ingredients were in it, the amount was too 
small for my tongue to detect. 

Richardson tasted too. "All right,” he 
said bruskly. "I simply wanted to make 
sure. ... I know you don’t exactly love 
me, Akkar!” 

"I do not, Mr. Richardson,” mumbled 
Akkar, his eyes flashing again. "But as I 
have said, I would not dare attempt bodily 
violence in my own home.” 

And still we stayed! It seems incredible 
now, after hearing from his own lips what 


382 


WEIRD TALES 


his feeling for us was. But we were so 
sure of ourselves, simply because we were 
two able-bodied young men pitted against 
a feeble old man. No wonder those of the 
Orient think us children in wisdom! 

"You will not be asked to drink this 
potion, anyway,” said Alckar. "Only to 
inhale its fumes.” 

Richardson nodded in a bored way. 
And Akkar began to stir the mess in the 
earthenware bowl. As he stirred, I saw 
his lips move as though with words. But 
no sound came from them, and I don’t 
know to this day whether he was repeat¬ 
ing actual syllables for some sinister rea¬ 
son of his own, or whether his lips, slack 
with age, were simply moving uncertainly 
with the movements of his old arm as he 
stirred. 

I left the easy-chair, now, and came to 
stand by the table so I could see more 
closely what was being done. I saw that 
the water and herbs in the bowl had 
united to form a thin oaste, like green 
soup. 

"That is all, gentlemen,” said Akkar. 
"It is not a very elaborate preparation for 
so great a boon as second sight, is it?” 

His eyes were glittering feverishly. His 
nostrils were white with some inner ex¬ 
citement. The way he stared at Richard¬ 
son was enough in itself—or should have 
been—to send us on the run from that 
den of the abnormal and supernatural. 

"One last thing remains to be done,” 
mumbled Akkar. "One little thing. . . .” 

He straightened up from the bowl. He 
stood tall and commanding above it. Old? 
His years must have been close to ninety, 
but in that instant he was fired with youth. 
Black youth, unwholesome and unnatural. 

A sharp sentence sounded from his 
lips, a string of guttural words that 
seemed to be part of no known language. 
At the same time he passed his hand over 
the bowl, thumb raised and palm flat. 


Instantly the contents of the bowl sent 
up a thin, greenish vapor. The mess was 
stone-cold, so it could not have been the 
fumes of heat. I had watched him intent¬ 
ly enough to know that nothing had 
dropped from his hand, in the nature of 
a chemical reagent, when he passed it 
across the bowl. Yet the greenish vapor 
coiled up from the devil’s brew for sev¬ 
eral minutes. 

"And now, Mr. Richardson,” purred 
Akkar, his tongue flickering over his lips 
to moisten them, "if you and your friend 
will but breathe deeply of the fumes— 
you will be very greatly surprized at what 
may occur.” 

Well, Akkar himself had called the 
turn a few minutes before. A man can’t 
harm two guests—known to be under his 
roof—and hope to get away with it. 
Akkar was too clever to do anything so 
crude as try to poison us. Certainly it 
would be all right to breathe the fumes. 

"I’ll try a whiff first,” said Richardson 
lightly. "You watch and see what hap¬ 
pens.” 

"We’ll both tty it,” I said promptly, 
crushing down the inner voices that were 
whispering things to me. 

"No, no!” said Richardson quickly. “If 
we both did,” he explained, "we’d both 
see the same hallucinations. If only one 
of us indulges, the other can check up on 
the 'magic’ results.” 

"But it seems your friend wishes to join 
you,” muttered Akkar, bending his pierc¬ 
ing gaze on me again. 

Once more I trembled in the hypnotic 
force of the old man’s glare. I think my 
hand went up as if to brush away an in¬ 
visible chain that seemed to bind me to 
him. The Evil Eye! I used to laugh at 
the childish phrase. . . . 

But, summoning all my remaining will- 


AKKAR’S MOTH 


383 


power, I managed to resist his glared com¬ 
mand. Thank God, thank God. . . . 

"I’ll be the spectator, I think,” I said to 
Akkar. "Perhaps it would be better if one 
of us remained clear-headed—to see what 
happens to the other.” 

"Very well,” said Akkar. "But you 
gentlemen seem to me to be making a 
very significant thing out of what was pro¬ 
posed as a humble trick of magic—faked, 
of course!” 

"All set, Malcolm?” Richardson asked. 
"I’m going to try a sniff of this second 
sight, simply as the price of peace with 
Akkar; and then we’ll go home.” 

He was still sitting on the broken chair 
beside the table. Now he bent over the 
still fuming brew in the bowl. . . . 

No, no, no, no, no! those inner voices 
shrieked silently to me in a sort of des¬ 
perate chant. Don’t let him! Don’t let 
him! Don’t let him! 

But I said nothing—as any other man 
of our set would have said nothing. After 
all, didn’t we learn at college that there 
are no such things as supernatural phe¬ 
nomena? 

However, my fingers ached, they were 
clenching themselves so rigidly; and my 
breathing hurt my chest as I watched. 

R ichardson calmly drew in a deep 
- breath, with his face directly over the 
bowl. Nothing seemed to happen to him. 
Another deep inhalation. Still he ap¬ 
peared perfectly normal and all right. 

And then—then—I began to feel 
dizzy. I don’t know why that was. I can’t 
imagine what Akkar did to make my 
senses reel as they were reeling at that 
moment. Richardson was the one who 
was breathing in the fumes, and appar¬ 
ently without effect—but 1 got dizzy and 
faint. 

Things in the room began to swim 
around before my eyes. I saw the big 


black cat, lashing its swollen tail, seeming 
to be now in one place and now in 
another. Then sight seemed to fade 
altogether. 

One last thing I saw—that damned 
white moth flying around and around 
Richardson’s head—was it fancy that my 
friend’s face seemed green and sick- 
looking?—and then I must have lost con¬ 
sciousness. 

A sensation of cold on my forehead 
and wrists brought me around again. 
How many minutes later? I don’t know. 
I looked up to find old Akkar leaning 
over me with a wet cloth. 

"Richardson!” I shouted, springing to 
my feet and pushing Akkar aside. I stared 
frenziedly around. "Richardson!” 

Then I saw him, slumped in the easy- 
chair, half hidden by the shadows. I 
jumped to his side. 

"Are you all right? Tell me—you’re 
all right?” 

"Not a hair of his head has been 
harmed,” I heard Akkar say. And then 
he laughed. God, how he laughed! High 
and shrill and cracked his laughter rang 
out, tearing at my nerves like a jagged 
knife-blade. "Not a hair of his head has 
been harmed.” 

Richardson, meanwhile, said no word. 
He simply sat, slumped back in the chair, 
staring up at me with eyes that neither 
saw me nor would have known me had 
they seen. 

"Richardson,” I whispered, "don’t look 
at me like that! Say something. ..." 

I whirled toward Akkar. 

"What have you done to him? Answer 
me! I’ll kill you if you don’t bring my 
friend back to normal instantly!” 

"Normal?” His eery laugh sounded 
out again. "Have I not said I wouldn’t 
harm a hair of his-” 

With that I jumped for him, blindly, 


384 


WEIRD TALES 


hands spread to take that scrawny old 
throat between them. But before I got 
within six feet of him, I was stopped. By 
what? I don’t know. But he might have 
surrounded himself with invisible steel 
rods for all the progress I could make 
toward him. 

So we stood for a moment, Akkar’s 
gaze mocking me. I could hear Richard¬ 
son panting heavily in the chair. Then 
something white fluttered before my eyes. 
The moth. 

I lashed out at it, distractedly. It es¬ 
caped my hand, fluttered back out of 
reach, but continued to wheel and turn 
before my face on a level with my eyes, as 
though trying to distract my attention 
from Akkar. 

And then a horrible, squeaking cry 
sounded out behind me. I half turned. 
Out of the corners of my eyes I saw Rich¬ 
ardson get up from the easy-chair. The 
cry sounded again —and it came from his 
lips! 

Stunned, I stood there, watching. And 
as I stood, too dazed to think, Richardson 
sprang for the window. A third time the 
high, squeaking cry came from his blood¬ 
less lips. Then he dashed the burlap cur¬ 
tain aside and leaped out into the night. 

I could move, then—when it was too 
late. I ran to the window. . . . 

"Richardson!” I shouted after him. 
But already he was across the road, and 
plunging into the swamp. 

I started to jump out and follow him. 

"Wait!” said Akkar. 

I snarled at him. “Go to hell!” 

"Wait, I say!” 

Again that hypnotic power of his bit at 
my will. I halted a little longer at the 
window. 

“But Richardson!” The words were 
wrung from me. "There are parts of that 
swamp that are bottomless. He’ll die out 
there!” 


“Your friend will not die.” Weariness 
sounded in old Akkar’s voice, now. Utter 
fatigue. As if he had been under an 
immense strain for a long time. But in 
spite of the fatigue, there was fiendish 
triumph—and boundless power—in his 
high, thin voice. "Your friend will not 
die. I do not wish him to die. That 
would be too easy. Come, now, and I will 
tell you where you may find him. If you 
do not listen, you never will see him 
again.” 

I N spite of myself, I left the window, 
my gaze still searching, over my shoul¬ 
der, the black line of the swamp. I came 
back to the table, where Akkar had sunk 
wearily into the broken chair. 

"You will find your friend under —or 
perhaps in —the branches of the great 
sycamore that spreads its boughs a half- 
mile to the north and west of this house. 
You understand?” 

The words only vaguely reached me. 
My eyes were on the white moth. 

An odd thing had happened to it. In 
some way, it had fallen into the bowl of 
greenish paste on the table. Now it was 
struggling laboriously to climb up the 
slippery, sloping sides to freedom again. 

Back it slipped, to climb up again, and 
yet again, till the rim was reached at last. 

Two powerful, vital impulses tore at 
me. One was to try again to reach Akkar 
and stamp his life out. The other was to 
run into the swamp and rescue Richard¬ 
son. 

Neither was quite strong enough to 
rouse me from the odd daze in which I 
watched that white moth. I stared at it 
with all my eyes, Akkar forgotten, every¬ 
thing forgotten. 

It had reached the rim at last, as I said. 
It hung there for an instant, then fell to 
the wrapping-paper on which the bowl 
was set. 


W. T.—7 


AKKAR’S MOTH 


385 


It wasn’t white now. It was green, a 
feebly moving thing with wings mired 
together and green slime trailing after it 
as it toiled across the paper. 

But how erratically it was moving on 
that paper! Up and down—here and 
there—with no seeming direction. . . . 

Why, it was- 

*'Ay!” Akkar screamed suddenly. His 
withered hand shot out to smash the 
moth. 

But my hand was quicker. I caught his 
wrist, and I think I broke his arm when I 
twisted it. I hope so. 

Then I snatched up the wrapping-paper, 
dying moth and all, and ran from that 
place as though all the fiends—instead of 
but one of them—were after me. 


1 stirred uneasily in the silence that 
followed Malcolm’s words. It was 
warm and pleasant on the porch, where 
we were sitting. But in spite of that I 
felt cold. 

"You found Richardson?” I said at 
last. 

"Yes, I found him.” Malcolm’s tone 
was so low I barely caught it. "He was 
squatting in the lower branches of the 
sycamore Akkar directed me to. He 
leaped down as I came near, and kept 
darting at the flashlight I carried, all the 
time uttering those terrible moth-like 
cries. . . He sighed deeply. "You 
read the rest in the papers?” 

I nodded, feeling the clipping in my 
pocket. 

"His case is considered utterly hope¬ 
less,” said Malcolm. "Not a trace of that 
fine intelligence of his is left. He—he 
has to be kept in a strait jacket. Other¬ 
wise he would try to jump out the win¬ 
dow and fly. Toward the street lights. 
Always toward the light.” 

W. T.—8 


"But, good Lord, Malcolm!” I ex¬ 
claimed. “This Akkar—what did you do 
to him?” 

"Nothing. . . . Oh, I tried, all right. 
I couldn’t testify to the entire, terrible 
truth. But I did press a charge of poison¬ 
ing against him, said the fumes of the 
brew he mixed up had stolen Richard¬ 
son’s reason. But Akkar let chemists 
analyze it, and they found nothing harm¬ 
ful in it. The case was finally dropped, 
and Akkar left town shortly afterward.” 

I stared over the porch rail into a velvet 
darkness which an instant ago had seemed 
pleasant and which now seemed awful. 

"The wrapping-paper, and the white 
moth,” I said. "Have you still got them?” 

"The moth got away while I was floun¬ 
dering through the swamp after Richard¬ 
son. Or should I say, after Richardson’s 
body? I could only hold the fragile thing 
loosely for fear of crushing it. I never 
saw it again. ... I suppose it died, with 
its secret, in a few hours. I have the 
wrapping-paper, though; anyway, I have 
the part which is significant. I’ll show 
you.” 

He got up and went into the house, 
returning with a tom fragment of brown 
paper. He held it up to the window 
behind us, through which came the light 
of a floor-lamp. 

I gazed intently at it, and saw meander¬ 
ing tracks of fading, sticky green stuff. 
And then I sat down abruptly, feeling 
that my knees could no longer be trusted 
not to give under me. 

For the tracks on the paper—the green 
trail of the moth—were: 



^^etter 

By S. GORDON GURWIT 

A strange story of weird surgery—of the head that talked—and the eery death of\ 
an experimenter in forbidden fields of science 


I T WAS during my term as district at¬ 
torney that I received the letter. And 
it has haunted me ever since. Of 
course, during my occupation of the office, 
many letters came, oddities of confessions, 
threats, warnings, appeals; but I soon for¬ 
got them. However, the letter I received 
from Philip Krueger seared itself into my 
subconscious mind as relentlessly as aqua¬ 
fortis bites into metal. 

If I am to make any sort of a coherent 
tale out of this, it would, perhaps, be best 
to give you the facts at once. 

Believing him guilty, I had prosecuted 
and convicted Philip Krueger on a charge 
of murder. He was a young medical stu¬ 
dent, apparently of more than ordinary 
ability, who had killed another student 
named Lucien Alverez—his roommate. 

These two young men lived together in 
an unsavory rooming-house on the lower 
east side—to be near the university clinic; 
and one night, Krueger had hit Alverez 
a fearful blow on the head with a chair, 
killing him instantly. 

Another roomer had testified that he 
had been awakened by an unusual com¬ 
motion, the frenzied cries of both men— 
as if engaged in mortal combat—and had 
arrived upon the scene to find the upper 
part of the house burning fiercely. 

It was contended that Krueger set fire 
to the house to conceal his crime, but 
Krueger denied this wildly. In fact, his 
entire demeanor during the trial was un¬ 
usual. He sat, for the most part, in a 
deep, voiceless apathy, seemingly uncon- 
386 


scious of what went on around him. Oc¬ 
casionally he looked up, blinked, and was 
apparently surprized by his surroundings. 

When the one witness was being ques¬ 
tioned, Krueger seemed to awaken as if 
from a drugged sleep and listened intent¬ 
ly. Noticing this, I stressed my next 
question: 

"Would you mind, Mr. Dean,” I said, 
to the witness, "telling the court just 
what you heard and saw that night? Tell 
it in your own way.” 

"Well, sir—it’s just what I said before. 
I heard ’em shouting—the furniture 
breaking, and Krueger, he yelled, 'Alve¬ 
rez, you devil—I’ll smash it’-” 

"Object!” snapped the attorney for the 
defense. "The witness is using his imagi¬ 
nation and presuming to look through the 
floor! How could he know it was the de¬ 
fendant talking? I move that reply be 
stricken from the records!” 

"I recognized his voice,” responded the 
witness, dryly, before the judge could 
sustain or overrule the objection. 

I cautioned the witness and asked him 
to continue, the attorney for the defense 
asking an exception. 

"Well,” continued the witness, mali¬ 
ciously, "I recognized the voice of Alverez 
yelling, 'Stop! For God’s sake, don’t!’ 
And then there were sounds as if some 
one was smashin’ things with a baseball 
bat.” 

"Yes, go on. Then what happened?” 

"Well, I ran upstairs and the place was 
ablaze. Looked like gasoline had been 


THE LETTER 


387 


spilled all over and half the room was 
burning fiercely-” 

The prisoner jumped to his feet sud¬ 
denly. "It was that damned liquid!” he 
cried, wildly. "Alverez made it—and it 
spilled! I wasn’t near him—I was trying 

to crush and smash the head-” He 

stopped abruptly. His eyes glazed with 
some unspeakable horror and he threw 
up his hands as if to ward off some fear¬ 
some specter, and collapsed. 

There was a recess after this. Although 
the evidence was purely circumstantial, it 
was overwhelming. True, no one had 
actually seen the crime committed, but I 
got a conviction. Not the maximum pen¬ 
alty. The jury gave him life imprison¬ 
ment. 

Then, on a technicality, his attorney ap¬ 
pealed for a new trial, promising new 
evidenced by putting his client on the wit¬ 
ness chair—something that Krueger had 
refused to do before. It was during this 
period—while Krueger was in jail—that 
he must have written the letter. 

I could not verify all of his statements 
because the upper part of the house where 
the two students had lived was utterly 
destroyed by the fire; but I did find enough 
charred bones to make the explanation in 
his letter possible, but, then, there were 
so many pieces, scorched and burned, de¬ 
formed by the fierce blast of the chemical 
blaze, as to make certainty impossible. As 
the matter stands now, I don’t know if 
Krueger was guilty—or mad. I know 
little of the things he wrote me about. I 
place the case before you, without com¬ 
ment, for judgment. 

ere is Krueger’s letter: 

Even though you—as district attor¬ 
ney—have convicted me of a crime I 
know nothing about, I feel that you acted 
in all honesty—that you are an upright, 


honest man, a servant of the State sworn 
to do your duty. 

But there are many things connected 
with this case that I could not tell in a 
courtroom. Not in the white light of day, 
although I intend to take the witness chair 
at the next trial—if I get one. And I 
don’t always remember just what hap¬ 
pened that night. Sometimes I fear that 
I am losing my mind when I do recall the 
vivid horror of that night 

Let me tell you the whole story as it 
actually happened, and let me say here 
that everything I write, in this letter is 
true—so help me God! 

As you know, Alverez and I had been 
living together for a year. We were the 
best of friends, and we had much in com¬ 
mon, both being interested in revolution¬ 
izing the pharmaceutical world. Alverez, 
I confess, was far my superior in every 
branch of science, knowledge and imag¬ 
ination. He was a genius—nothing less 
—but a genius with a satanic tendency, a 
morbid, devilish humor. His idea of 
something funny was to put a smoldering 
pipe into the grinning jaws of a human 
skull we had in the room, cock a cap 
jauntily over one vacant eyesocket and 
grin at the grotesque combination. 

"There you are!” he would observe. 
"Old man death on a holiday! Looks like 
a smoke makes him grin harder, doesn’t 
it? Wonder what he would say if there 
was still a brain in that cranium?” 

Then he would turn to his enormous, 
heterogeneous collection of bottles and 
jars and begin his never-ending experi¬ 
ments in flesh culture. 

Ever since the remarkable researches 
and revolutionary discoveries of Doctor 
Von Geyso had been made public, Alverez 
had undertaken a similar effort with as¬ 
tonishing results. He concocted a formula 
wherein the growth of living cells had be¬ 
come a fact. 


388 


WEIRD TALES 


Naturally, this uncanny achievement 
filled both our minds with dreams; but 
Alverez stopped short of nothing—even 
the rebuilding of life itself began to 
seem a certainty to him. In all this I 
acted purely as an intelligent assistant. 

He had jars of strange, saline liquids 
in which he kept chicken hearts beating 
for months. He had a culture of paste 
that smelled to the high heavens, where 
he tried to create an original life cell— 
like the ancestral ameba in the primeval 
morass. 

"Life,” he would say to me, his thin, 
eager face glowing, "is eternal. The liv¬ 
ing cell goes on. The natural law of the 
conservation of matter is greater than the 
thing we know as death. Look at that 
chicken heart! The chicken is gone—but 
the heart beats on!” 

He thrilled me as his voice, eager, in¬ 
tense, rose, but I was always uneasy. It 
was soon after this that he concocted the 
terrible liquid that he called "flame.” 

"There!” he shouted to me. "There! 
It’s sunlight and earth and the crucible for 
gestation-” 

"Oh, nonsense! What’s the formula?” 

"Formula? Wait till we try it—then 
I’ll tell you. Phil, I think I’ve got it this 
time! If I only had a subject worthy!” 
His feverish eyes swept the room. "I’ll 
save it until we can get a good subject.” 

In truth, the liquid was extraordinary. 
It never stood still for a moment. It 
writhed and swirled and bubbled with an 
endless energy, constantly changing color 
—from blue to orchid, to red, to flame, 
then to venomous greens; and constantly 
it contorted and twisted uneasily. 

Alverez had it in a huge glass bowl— 
we had emptied our aquarium of germi¬ 
nating specimens to accommodate it—and 
it fascinated me. 

"By no means touch it!” he cautioned. 

"Why not?” 


"Just so. It would prove disastrous.” 

"What are you going to do with it?” 

"Experiment, of course! As soon as 
we can get the proper specimen-” 

"As, for instance?” 

His eyes glowed darkly. "A human 
heart—from our dissecting-room!” 

"And then?” 

' 'I want to make it beat again! I’ll keep 
it living for years! Or a human brain—• 
perhaps I can make it function-” 

"You’re crazy!” I charged. 

"Am I?” he countered, mysteriously. 
"Just wait and see!” 

Some few days later, he obtained the 
objects for his experiment, and I watched, 
fascinated, as he went about his work; 
but it was a failure. His subjects were 
reduced to a pulp. He muttered excitedly 
over the bowl, his lanky figure stooped, 
looking for all the world like some gaunt, 
ancient alchemist, concocting a magical 
philtre and venturing into the realms of 
the forbidden. There was something 
eery about his muttering, his attitude, his 
pointed face and flashing eyes. 

"Not quite right,” he said to me later. 
"I’ve got to change the formula a bit, but 
I’m convinced that I’m on the right track.” 

I T was several evenings later that he 
came in late at night, with a large bun¬ 
dle under his arm, his brilliant eyes flam¬ 
ing. 

"I’ve got it!” he cried to me, throwing 
the bundle on the table. "I’ve got it, 
Phil!” 

"What?” It was after one and I want¬ 
ed to go to bed. "What now?” 

"Professor Kinkaid’s expedition got 
back today from the Philippines and the 
South Seas. They’ve brought back a lot 
of interesting things—that’s one of ’em 
—a head!” 

"A— what?” 

"A head! They were in the Moro 


THE LETTER 


389 


head-hunting country and they brought 
back some of the heads the Moros keep 
for ornaments. This one used to belong 
to a white man. They had a bunch of 
them, so the professor let me take this one 
for my experiment. It’s a beauty!” 

I shuddered and edged away from the 
bundle. "You’re off your mind!” I 
charged. "What do you want with that 
thing? Why bring it here, where we have 
to live? Gosh! The place is like a 
morgue now!” 

He hardly heard me. He was slipping 
off his coat, the light of the eager fanatic 
glowing in his face. 

"Tonight we’ll know!” he whispered 
tensely, unwrapping the package with 
trembling fingers. 

Hardened as I am to human suffering, 
I could not help exclaiming over the ter¬ 
rible expression that death had etched 
upon that long-dead face. The utter pa¬ 
ralysis of sheer fascination fettered my 
eyes upon the head of what had once 
been a white man before the Moro head¬ 
hunters had decapitated him. 

Alverez took it in his hands, gloating 
over it, flashed me a triumphant look and 
slowly immersed the head in the mixture 
he called "flame.” Seen through the 
translucent, writhing liquid, it took on a 
still more sinister aspect; but nothing hap¬ 
pened. 

We sat and watched, in silence, for a 
disquieting hour, Alverez intent, mutter¬ 
ing; I, fascinated at first, finally walked 
away to get a cigarette. Alverez followed. 
His nervousness was apparent and he hun¬ 
gered for the solace of nicotine fully as 
much as I did. 

Then a peculiar impression that I was 
being observed obsessed me. We both 
whirled around at the same moment and 
stared, awe-struck. The eyes of the head 
had opened! 

My heart thundered suddenly, and the 


flesh seemed to creep down my back. I 
stared, uncomprehendingly, and a shout 
came from Alverez. 

"It’s working!” he cried, and ran to the 
bowl. 

I shambled over as if in a trance. Some 
prescience of violences unutterable, of 
horrors unspeakable, swelled my tongue 
and constricted my throat. The cigarette 
fell from my fingers, unheeded. 

Entranced by some incomprehensible 
force, I watched the head in its turbulent 
bath, and to my excited, overstrung nerves 
it seemed that the eyelids flickered. 

Alverez crouched in front of the glass 
bowl like a huge frog, intent, his lips 
moving. I stood rooted to the spot, un¬ 
able to voice the agitation that threatened 
to overwhelm me. 

And a remarkable thing happened—I 
swear it, Mr. Breckenridge! A contortion 
swept the face in the bowl, and the eyes 
—they seemed full of an evil intelli¬ 
gence—turned to Alverez. The lips 
trembled as if something audible was go¬ 
ing to issue from them. 

Panic possessed me. Alverez had dis¬ 
covered something epoch-making. 

"It’s working!” the sibilant whisper 
came from his lips. He motioned for me 
to come nearer. “Come here! Watch! 
The head will live—and it will tell us 
everything! Wa-” 

I cried out in sheer fright as the eyes 
left Alverez and swung to meet mine. I 
saw reason in their depths, I tell you— 
and my flesh crawled and my skin 
prickled as the lips began to writhe and 
contort themselves in an apparent effort 
at expression. 

It was uncanny. It defied every natural 
law —but there it was! 

Alverez reached into the bowl with his 
metal forceps and raised the head until 
only the ragged neck was touching the 
solution. Here he perched it on a cross 


390 


WEIRD TALES 


member of glass he had rigged, and 
stepped back. The eyes glowed; the lips 
seemed to be making a Herculean effort 
to speak. Color flowed in the gaunt 
cheeks and I saw the throb of a vein in 
one temple. 

Mute, hardly believing my eyes, I 
watched, too frightened to speak or move. 

"Talk!” commanded Alverez, in a high, 
thin voice. "Talk, damn you! Who were 
you? What's your name? Can you hear 
me? Can you understand me?” 

The face glowed redly, as with burst¬ 
ing blood; the lips snarled away from the 
yellow fangs of teeth—and by the gods! 
—a sound came from the mouth—not of 
vocal chords or lung pressure—but a 
chuckling so eery that my blood froze in 
my veins. And then, as Alverez, stunned, 
fell back a step, the head seemed to sway 
slightly as with some mighty effort. 

A cold perspiration broke out over my 
body and it seemed to me that I could not 
breathe. Alverez was pale as chalk; but 
the zealot triumphed. 

"It will live!” he shouted, like a ma¬ 
niac. "It lives, Phil! See? I can make it 
live—and I will make it talk! I’ll take 
the vocal chords from another body—and 
make them function with this head! I 
can do it—I know I can!” 

The head contorted its features convul¬ 
sively, the eyes rolled from Alverez to me 
in an agony of inarticulate pleading, fear, 
pain—and something snapped in my brain 
like the bursting of a bomb. I picked up 
a chair and flung it, panic-stricken, at the 
head. Words poured from my lips: 


"Alverez, you devil,” I shouted, beside 
myself, "let me smash it-” 

"Stop!” he cried, wildly. "For God’s 
sake—don’t!” 

But a frenzy of fear possessed me. I 
picked up another chair and struck blind¬ 
ly, again and again. Suddenly, I saw Al¬ 
verez on the floor, quiet, as if dead. The 
head lay in a corner and the "flame” bowl 
was broken. The liquid ran like a red 
stream of fire toward the head. I was 
conscious of one glance of unearthly 
hatred from those ghostly eyes, and then 
flame suddenly enveloped the room. 

Maybe it was the cigarette; maybe not; 
but I remember nothing else until I awak¬ 
ened in the hospital. 

And here I found that I was charged 
with the murder of my best friend. It’s 
not true! I did not kill him. It is, of 
course, possible that I hit him with the 
chair in my unseeing frenzy, but if so, 
God knows it was unintentional. This is 
the truth, Mr. Breckenridge, and I wanted 
you to know it. 

Philip Krueger. 

T hat was the letter. I immediately 
called the jail and identified myself, 
stating that I wanted to talk to Krueger. 
The warden answered me. 

"Krueger? Sorry, sir! He went com¬ 
pletely haywire last night and passed out 
this morning. Yep! Dead! Well, I guess 
that ends his appeal to a higher court, 
eh?” 

I hung up. "No,” I told myself, “it 
doesn’t. He has gone before a higher 
court!” 


3n JWemortam 


HENRY ST. CLAIR WHITEHEAD 

R EADERS of Weird Tales will be grieved to hear of the death of that dis¬ 
tinguished author, the Reverend Henry S. Whitehead, Ph. D., who was a 
■ regular contributor to this magazine. His death was caused by a painful 
gastric illness of more than two years’ duration. 

Doctor Whitehead, descended paternally from an old Virginian family and 
maternally from a noted line of Scottish West Indian planters, was born in 1882 
in Elizabeth, New Jersey. As a boy he attended the Berkeley School in New York 
City, and in 1904 was graduated from Harvard University, a classmate of Presi¬ 
dent-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt. Studying under men like Santayana and Miin- 
sterberg, he later took his degree as Doctor of Philosophy. His first literary work 
was published in 1905, and from that time forward he was an increasingly well- 
known writer in many fields. 

In 1912, having graduated from the Berkeley Divinity School, Doctor White- 
head was ordained a deacon of the Episcopal Church; and was advanced to the 
priesthood in 1913. From 1913 to 1917 he was rector of Christ Church in Mid¬ 
dletown, Connecticut, and was later children’s pastor at St. Mary the Virgin’s in 
New York City. During 1919-23 he was senior assistant at the Church of the 
Advent in Boston, and in 1923-5 was rector of Trinity Church at Bridgeport, Con¬ 
necticut. Subsequently Doctor Whitehead served as acting archdeacon in the Vir¬ 
gin Islands, where he had previously served several winters in a similar capacity. 

As an author Doctor Whitehead specialized in fiction, though writing much on 
ecclesiastical and other subjects. Beginning in 1923, when his story. The lntarsia 
Box (in Adventure ), received a first-class rating as a story of distinction from the 
O. Henry Memorial Committee, many similar honors were accorded his work. In 
1927 he contributed to the Free Lance Writers’ Handbook an article on the tech¬ 
nique of weird fiction which is still a standard text on the subject. 

It is for weird fiction of a subtle, realistic and quietly potent sort that he will 
be best remembered by readers of this magazine, in which twenty-five of his great¬ 
est tales have been published. Deeply versed in the somber folklore of the West 
Indies, and of the Virgin Islands in particular, he caught the inmost spirit of the 
native superstitions and wrote them into tales whose accurate local background 
created an astonishing illusion of genuineness. His "jumbee” stories—popularly 
so-called because of their frequent inclusion of a typical Virgin Island belief—form 
a permanent contribution to spectral literature, while his recurrent central character 
and narrator, "GeraldCanevin” (embodying much of his own personality), will al¬ 
ways be recalled as a life-like and lovable figure. 

Prominent among Doctor Whitehead’s tales are Sea Change, Jumbee, The Tree 
Man, Black Tancrede, Hill Drums, and Passing of a God —the latter perhaps rep¬ 
resenting the peak of his creative genius. 





FLOOD of letters in praise or denunciation of interplanetary stories was 



called forth by our query in the January issue as to whether you want us 


to drop that type of story entirely from Weird Tales. We quote first from 
two letters which summarize the arguments against such stories: 

A. B. Leonard, of Portsmouth, Ohio, writes to the Eyrie: "In your January 
number you ask the question, Do the readers like interplanetary stories? and make 
the comment that only a few readers have written complaints about this type of 
story. The rest of us are so enraged that we can’t see straight enough to write to 
you. Interplanetary stories are not weird. They are merely thrillers. The same 
events could be at home in any of the adventure magazines merely by changing the 
locale. Take the present serial for instance: the yellow men of Venus are Chinamen, 
and the red juice they are constantly spitting is the betel-nut juice of the Orient. 
The toads are merely African savages, and the hairy men are Bolsheviks. The hero 
and heroine are the typical characters of adventure stories. And such people as these 
interplanetary authors depict! Bugs, crawdads, iron statues, square men, gaseous 
men, toads and what not. Oh, and the usual globular men. Why do all interplan¬ 
etary stories have to have globular men? I have read countless of these stories and 
practically all of them have globular men in them. And returning to the other 
freaks we meet in these stories, I can just picture the author sitting at his desk 
scratching his head and muttering to himself, 'Now what kind of a queer duck can 
I use here?’ And another thing, if one—if even one—of these stories ever had a 
different plot from the one laid down by Mr. Burroughs in his Mars books, I might 
be able to condone the fact that they are not weird tales. But no—every one is 
cut to the same pattern. The superman from the earth outfights, outruns, outjumps, 
outthinks, outloves every man on the new planet and tears in tooth and toenail and 
whips them all to a frazzle, grabs the most beautiful girl of the most advanced 
kingdom, becomes king and conquers the entire planet, and introduces universal peace. 
And another thing. If the heroine is as beautiful as the stories say she is, why get 
mad at the villain for wanting her?” 

A letter from Howard Charlton, of Berkeley, California, says: "Since you put the 
question to Weird Tales readers, whether you should publish interplanetary sto¬ 
ries, allow me, as a confirmed WT hound, to utter a loud and hearty NO. These 
stories are not weird. The reason is, that since the setting is purely imaginary, the 
wildest flights of fancy have no normalcy to contrast with, in the story. On Mars 
or Venus anything can happen—all hell can pop without causing one to bat an eye. 


392 






THE EYRIE 


393 


If you get few kicks about this, it is because the stories themselves are good of their 
kind, and it seems unkind to object to a writer doing good work. But these tales are 
not— quod ante dixeramus —weird, and have no place in a magazine the purpose of 
which is to curdle the blood, raise the hair, and make one heartily hope that such 
things ain’t! Also let me register an objection, though I suppose I shall be in a still 
smaller minority, against 'weird-scientific’ tales. Weirdness appeals to the emotions 
more than to the reasoning powers, and the cold light of science, or even pseudo¬ 
science, calls too much reason into play to give the weird feeling a chance to devel¬ 
op. Seabury Quinn knows his stuff in this respect—he introduces very convincing, 
because actual, bits of science, especially medicine, as contrast to the weirdness, not 
as weird material per se. This is the way pure science should be used in fiction. If 
you must have weird-scientific tales, cut them short. The reader should be knocked 
breathless by the astounding idea, not given time to realize that it is really impos¬ 
sible, which he will in a long tale of this kind. No amount of detail (as in The 
Monsters) can keep up the illusion. Also the human element is almost ignored 
by these authors. In weird fiction it should be stressed. We can only appreciate 
the horror of people we seem to know, like Jules de Grandin in Quinn’s fine tales.” 

Gifton Amsbury, of Lincoln, Nebraska, who signs himself Secretary of the In¬ 
ternational Scientific Association, writes to the Eyrie: "The common run of inter¬ 
planetary stories is getting overdone, but so far I have not seen any of the common 
run' in Weird. Such stories as Kline’s Venus tales can no more be called merely 
'interplanetary’ than Howard’s tales about Conan can be called ’historic.’ There was 
an element of the occult in the way Grandon got to Venus, but that is gone now and 
the only claim to weirdness is in the monsters and strange races. The point may be 
stretched but a little variety is good. And as to the crack about being suitable for ado¬ 
lescents, aren’t a good many of your readers adolescents? I was when I first started 
reading Weird Tales.” 

"I have been a reader of Weird Tales ever since the first copy,” writes Wil¬ 
liam Moore, of Waverly, New York, "and I have not missed one since that. I 
have not written to the Eyrie before, but when I see all the criticism about Otis Adel- 
bert Kline I can’t keep still any longer. I think we should have interplanetary 
stories by all means. I think Kline is one of the best writers you have, though I 
have never found a poor story in your magazine yet.” 

A letter from W. H. Pope, of Bradford, Arkansas, says: “If it isn’t too late to 
get in on this controversy. I’d like to register an emphatic vote in favor of the con¬ 
tinuance of Weird Tales' policy regarding interplanetary yarns. Hamilton is 
O. K., and as for Kline’s current serial, well, Buccaneers of Venus would separate me 
from a quarter any time. Let Weird Tales alone! A steady diet of supernatural 
stuff would pall, and the interplanetary stories and weird-scientific dope balance the 
magazine perfectly, adding the necessary zest. By all means keep 'em.” 

Katherine Turner writes from Laguna in the Philippine Islands: "I am a bit 
late in telling you which stories I like best in your September Weird Tales, but as 
I live far away, the numbers are slow getting to me. I was delighted with The Sher¬ 
aton Mirror by August W. Derleth, a delicately written and unusually interesting 
piece of imaginative writing. Also, as usual, Clark Ashton Smith’s story, The Em- 


394 


WEIRD TALES 


pire of the Necromancers, deserves special credit. Mr. Smith’s stories, always written 
with die hand of an artist, are a continued source of pleasure. I would not hes¬ 
itate to name him your best writer.” 

"In your January issue,” writes Claude H. Cameron, of Toronto, Canada, "I 
vote first place to Seabury Quinn for A Gamble in Souls. Quinn is getting better 
and better. I am glad to see him use the plot he did; I half suspect that Mr. Quinn 
is a member of a certain mystic order and that his plots are taken from facts that 
he can not definitely put forth. I understand that Mr. Quinn knows much about the 
art of embalming. Why not a story based on a soul returning to its body as the 
mortician is about to begin work? If Mr. Quinn really knows as much as I think, 
he can hatch out a good story somewhat along the lines of Marie Corelli’s Ardath.” 

Henry Hasse, of Indianapolis, laments in a letter to the Eyrie: "Why, oh, why 
did you do it? Discontinue 'The Unique Magazine’ on the cover, I mean. From 
any angle I look at it, I can not see how it was a change for the better. Please put 
it back. A foolish request, you may think. But—one of my most valued collec¬ 
tions is a set of Weird Tales, almost complete, back to the first number, March, 
1923. And as I look through them, and see The Unique Magazine on every cover, 
I have become proud of that trademark; it exemplifies the literary quality of Weird 
Tales, puts it into a class in which it reigns alone. Why, those three words belong 
to the magazine; I am almost angry; you had no right to take them from the cover.” 

Readers, what is your favorite story in this issue? The most popular story in 
our January number, as shown by your votes and letters to the Eyrie, was that utterly 
strange story by Robert E. Howard entitled The Scarlet Citadel. This received more 
than twice as many votes as its nearest competitor. Your second choice was the third 
installment of Otis Kline’s interplanetary serial, Buccaneers of Venus. 


My favorite stories in the March WEIRD TALES are: 


Story Remarks 

( 1 )..... 

( 2 )- - 

(3)--- 

I do not like the following stories: 


(!)• 

( 2 ). 


It will help us to know what kind of 
stories you want in Weird Tales if you 
will fill out this coupon and mail it to 
The Eyrie, Weird Tales, 840 N. Michigan 
Ave., Chicago, III. 


Why? 


I Reader's name and address: 

I- 


I — 




















Coming Next Month 

I OPENED my eyes, and saw that I was in a vast, high-ceiled room pervaded 
with a phosphorescent greenness that quivered and glowed and flickered mad¬ 
deningly. I was lying near the wall. My hands and feet were tied with cords. 
My clothing still reeked from the foulness of that which had brought me here, al¬ 
though the stench was rapidly becoming less intense. I shivered frorfi the memory 
of that repugnant contact. 

In the dim light of the room, I could distinguish hooded and robed figures. 
Some sat cross-legged, each on a bench scarcely larger than a coffee-table. Others, 
shadowy, ominous presences, conferred in low tones. A heavy haze of incense from 
several wrought-iron tripods clouded the room with its dizzying, breath-taking fumes. 
From another apartment, beyond the brocaded draperies, that concealed a doorway, 

I could hear the muttering of kettle-drums, and the whine of single-stringed kemen- 
jahs, and the sobbing notes of pipes. The weird, minor harmony sent chills up my 
spine. 

Then a man garbed in formal evening attire emerged from the shadows. He 
was tall and aquiline-featured; his eyes were glittering and phosphorescent, like those 
of a great cat. 

This was the Master of the show, who had defiled the very order of life in his 
attempt to gratify his ghastly whim; and those robed, hooded figures that moved 
through the spectral haze of the room were his acolytes, and his adepts in the devil¬ 
ish hierarchy which he had assembled. 

One of the adepts strode across the tile floor and halted within a few paces of 
the Master. . . . 

You can not afford to miss this thrill-tale of modern sorcery, of murder and 
fighting and sudden death, and the return of the ancient Queen of Sheba from the 
shadows, by the author of The Stranger from Kurdistan. It will be printed complete 
in the April WEIRD TALES: 

THE RETURN OF BALKIS 

By E. HOFFMANN PRICE 
—ALSO— 

THE STAR ROAMERS THE ICE-DEMON 

By Edmond Hamilton By Clark Ashton Smith 

An interplanetary story of many thrills—a bat- A fantastic tale of an animate, sentient sheet of 
tie of leaping flames on the world of Alpha ice, and the wild adventure of Quanga the hunt- 
Centauri, our nearest neighbor in space—by the er, who sought to dig royal rubies from a glacial 
author of Crashing Suns. tomb. 

GOLDEN BLOOD 
By Jack Williamson 

A fascinating novel of weird adventures in the hidden 
land beyond the cruel Arabian desert of the Rub' A1 
Khali, and a golden folk that ride upon a golden-yellow 
tiger and worship a golden snake. 

TIGER DUST REVELATIONS IN BLACK 

By Bassett Morgan By Carl Jacobi 

Another thrilling tale of brain-transplantation. An utterly strange story of three mad volumes 
and the eety vengeance of a weird tiger, by the and a weird woman who sat by a fountain in the 
author of The Devils of Po Sung. house of the twenty-six bluejays. 

April WEIRD TALES Out March i 

395 



Witch 


Passes 


By M. C. BODKIN 


Shrive me, father, 

Shrive my soul 
Ere 1 am laid 
In the deep black hole. 

Curuck, curoo, curuck, curoo 
How high we flew, how fast we flew 
Over the steeple, over the roof, 

Fair young witch and cloven hoof, 

Snout and claw and shaggy hide, 

Faggots are horses when witches ride 
Down the wind in screaming flight— 

But who will be his bride tonight? 

Ave, Sathanas, ora pro nobis! 

Light three tapers 
At my head, 

Give me the oil 
And the holy bread. 

Curuck, curoo, curuck, curoo 
The bog fires glimmered green and blue 
While we greased the pot with gallows’ sweat 
Wiped from the thing a-dangling yet 
Dead on the creaking gibbets’ shank— 

The dark brew bubbled and boiled and sank 
Spattering warm blood left and right— 

But who will be his bride tonight? 

Ave, Sathanas, ora pro nobis! 

Give me the cross 
That I may kiss 
The one who died 
To give me bliss. 

Curuck, curoo, curuck, curoo 
Thrice the sable cockerel crew; 

Chant your masses, demon choir, 

Prepare the couch and the crown of fire! 
Shriek, O fiends and devils, shout, 

Turn the holy cross about! 

Sharper his kiss than Death’s own bite 
Though I shall be his bride tonight! 

Ave, Sathanas, ora pro nobis. 


WEIRD TALES 


397 



By MAURICE LEVEL 

The dark shadow of a dead man came 
between the doctor and his wife—a new 
story by the author of "Cruel Tales” 

T HE log fire was dying in the 
grate. About the whole room, 
lighted by a too heavily shaded 
lamp, there was something vaguely men¬ 
acing that chilled my blood the moment 
I entered it. 

My friend came forward. "I am glad 
to see you, very glad,” he said, holding 
out his hand. 

He had aged and altered so that I 
should hardly have recognized him. Ex¬ 
tending his hand in the direction of the 
fireplace, he said in a low voice, "My 
friend Janville ... my wife.” 

I discerned a very pale face and a 
slender form that bowed slightly, while 
a subdued voice, a melancholy, weary 
voice, murmured, “We are pleased to see 
you here. Monsieur.” 

My friend offered me a chair. The 
white form relapsed into immobility; and 
silence, a deadened silence through which 
flitted indefinable thoughts, fell upon us. 

I could think of nothing to say. These 
two had been man and wife for some 
months. They had been in love for years 
before they were free to marry. And this 
was how I found them now! 

My friend broke the silence with a hesi¬ 
tating inquiry as to my health, and his 
thought seemed far from the words that 
fell from his lips. 

"Fine,” I replied, and speaking lower, 
I added, "You are happy?” 




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Former Agent, V. S. Secret Service, Director, Inter¬ 
national Secret Service Institute, Dept. WT-33, 
68 Hudson St., Hoboken, N. J. 


BACK ISSUES 

For complete list and prices write to Weird 
Talbs, 840 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 111. 


THE PRINCE OF PERIL 

By OTIS ADELBFJIT KLINE 
(Limited Autographed First Edition) 

Price $2.00 




















398 


WEIRD TALES 


"Yes,” he muttered. 

His wife coughed slightly, and rose. 

"Forgive me. Monsieur, but I am a 
little tired. You will excuse me, I am 
sure. . . . Please do not go.” 

She crossed the dining-room, presented 
her forehead to her husband, and left us. 

My friend got up and paced the floor 
with long strides, gnawing his mustache, 
then, stopping abruptly before me, put 
his hand on my shoulder. 

"I said I was happy. That’s a lie!” 

I looked at him in mute astonishment. 

"No doubt you think I am out of my 
mind,” he continued. "Not yet, but I’m 
likely to be before long. . . . Don’t you 
feel some sinister influence brooding over 
this house?” 

"Your wife and you appear to be un¬ 
der some cloud, certainly. Some worry, 
no doubt, the importance of which you 
exaggerate.” 

"No! No! No! There’s a horror hang¬ 
ing to these walls . . . there’s a terror 
creeping about these floors. Between my 
wife and me there’s the shadow of Crime 
... of Crime! 

"As you know, she who today is my 
wife was for long months my mistress. 
You know how desperately I loved her 
... or rather you do not know ... no 
one can know. ... I worshipped her, 
that creature, worshipped her to the point 
of devotion ... of frenzy. From the day 
she came into my life, there was no other 
life for me. She became a need in my 
nature, a flaw in my sanity, a vice in my 
blood. 

"I thought of running away with her, 
of challenging the voice of scandal. But 
neither of us had any means. I had only 
my profession to support me. And our 
being together openly in Paris was not to 
be thought of ... so I put aside honor, 
every moral scruple. To see her more 


frequently, I obtained an introduction to 
the husband. I cultivated his acquaint¬ 
ance. I came to be his constant' guest, 
his intimate friend. 

"I made that despicable third in a 
household who, under the shelter of its 
welcome, steals in cold blood from its 
master his peace and happiness. 

"I spent my holidays with them. He 
was a great sportsman; while he was out 
in the woods and fields I passed my time 
with her. 

“/\ne day we two were startled by 
v-r loud cries. I ran downstairs, and 
found the terrified servants gathered 
around the husband. 

"Stretched upon a couch, he was fight¬ 
ing for breath with quick, short gasps, 
as he clutched at a wound in his abdomen. 

“ 'Ah , Monsieur,’ faltered the man who 
carried his game-bag, 'how suddenly it 
happened! Monsieur had just shot a 
woodcock ... it fell in the rushes, he ran 
toward the spot, and all in a moment, I 
don’t know how it happened, but I heard 
a report—a cry—and I saw Monsieur 
fall forward. ... I brought him here.’ 

"I cut away the clothes and examined 
his injuries. The charge had plowed 
through his side. Blood flowed in jets 
from a terrible wound extending from 
above the hip to the thigh. 

"Years of training made me regard 
him solely as a patient. I examined him 
as if it had been a hospital case. I even 
gave a sigh of satisfaction as I learned 
that his injuries were really superficial. 
The intestines did not appear to be in¬ 
volved, but on the wound’s internal sur¬ 
face a small artery was spurting freely. 

"Hearing footsteps, I looked up, and 
saw Her standing in the doorway. A 
strange and unaccountable agony gripped 


WEIRD TALES 


399 


my heart. It was with a great effort that 
I said, 'Don’t come here. ... Go away.' 

" ’No,’ she said, and drew nearer. 

"I could not take my eyes from hers— 
she had fascinated them. My finger still 
pressing upon the artery, the sufferer full 
in her view, I watched that look of hers 
as a man watches a dagger pointed at his 
throat, a wavering dagger, the gleam of 
which hypnotizes him. 

She drew still nearer, and a cloudy 
impotence fell upon my will. That look 
spoke things of terrible import. It seized 
upon my soul, that look; it spoke—no 
need of words to make me understand 
what it asked of me. It said: 

" 'You can have me for your own. . .. 
You can take me and keep me. ... I 
shall thrill to no other joy, faint under 
no other fondness ... if only you 
will-’ 

"Once more I faltered: 'You must not 
stay here. ... Go away.’ 

"But the look spoke again: 

" 'Soul without resolution . . . heart 
that dares not. . . what have you always 
longed for? . . . Look! . . . Chance 
changes your dream to reality.’ 

"The artery pulsed under my finger 
and, little by little, strive as I would to 
maintain it, the pressure diminished. 

"She was close to me. She bent above 
me. Her breath played in my hair; the 
emanation from her body stole into every 
fiber of my being, impregnated my hands, 
my bps—that exhalation of love which 
was madness to me. 

"All conception of time, of danger, of 
duty, fled from my mind. 

"Suddenly the door opened, and a ser¬ 
vant appeared with my surgical case. The 
stupor was dispelled. 

" 'Quick! Give it to me!’ I shouted 
rather than called. 

"But then ... I saw that my finger had 



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a pharmacy shop. But the real part of you is the 
Infinite, creative power within—it makes YOU *, 
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By the proper use of this creative, steeping force • 
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This Free Book Explains 

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400 


WEIRD TALES 


NEXT MONTH 

GOLDEN 

BLOOD 

By JACK WILLIAMSON 

H ere is a novel that reads like a new 
Rider Haggard masterpiece—a fas¬ 
cinating tale of weird adventures in the 
hidden land that lies in Arabia beyond 
the Rub’ A1 Khali, crudest and least- 
known of the world’s deserts. In that 
so-called "golden land” of Arabian leg¬ 
end live a golden folk that ride upon a 
golden-yellow tiger and worship a golden 
snake. A group of adventurers from the 
outside world—renegade Bedouins, hard¬ 
bitten Americans from the French For¬ 
eign Legion, thrill-hunting soldiers of 
fortune—follow a trail of skulls across 
the desert to the "golden land,” and find 
themselves enmeshed in a web of the 
most sensational, dramatic and amazing 
happenings since the human race began. 

T hrills, shivers, chills and shudders 
will chase one another up and down 
your spine as you read this glamorous 
and glorious story, which will begin 

in the April issue of 

WEIRD TALES 

On sale March 1st 

To avoid missing your copy, clip and mail this 
coupon today for SPECIAL SUBSCRIPTION 
OFFER. 


WEIRD TALES 
840 N. Michigan Art., 

Chicago, IU. 

Enclosed find $1.00 for which send me the next 
flve issues of WEIRD TALES to begin with the 
April issue ($1.75 in Canada). Special offer void 
unless remittance is accompanied by coupon. 


City-State. 


deserted its post . . . that there was now 
no pulsation under it... that the stricken 
man’s lip was drawn upward into the 
mocking semblance of a smile . . . and 
. . . that it was all over. 

"Our eyes met. And in that moment 
a shadow fell between us, a shadow with 
a mocking smile—the shadow of the dead 
man. . . . 

“T THOUGHT at first that this nightmare 
A would fade away. I strove to assure 
myself that the fatal issue was an acci¬ 
dent, unavoidable. But since she became 
my wife, that shadow is between us, al¬ 
ways, everywhere. Neither speaks of it, 
but it comes between our meeting eyes. 

"I—I see once more her eyes, the look, 
saying, 'Take me. Let us be free.’ She— 
she sees once more my hand, as, by slow 
degrees, it lets the life of her husband ebb 
away. And hatred has come, a silent ha¬ 
tred, the hatred of two murderers who are 
in the bonds of a mutual fear. 

"We remain for hours as you have 
seen us tonight. Words rush up within 
us, smite asunder the clenched teeth, half 
open the lips—and we keep silence.” 

He took a dagger from the table, tried 
the edge with his finger. 

"Cowards .. . both of us!” 

He flung the weapon, clanging, to the 
table, and burying his face in his hands, 
burst into tears. 


Coming soon— 

Dead Man’s Belt 

By Hugh B. Cave 

▼ 

A powerful and utterly different 
weird story 


W.T.-8 

















Do You Read 

The MAGIC CARPET Magazine? 


The Vagabond-at-Arms 

By SEABURY QUINN 

The current issue contains this brilliant novelette describing the adventures 
of Carlos de la Muette, swashbuckling soldier of fortune, and his amazing career 
as a. fighter and a rescuer of the downtrodden and oppressed. Book your passage 
now aboard the MAGIC CARPET and fly with us to Spain to share in the exploits 
of this swaggering grandee. 


—ALSO— 


THE DESERT HOST 

By Hugh B. Cave 

A mighty story of Babylon, and Semiramis the 
Great Queen — a tale of stupendous heroism, and 
the slave-pens under the temple of Marduk, and 
an armed host that came riding out of the desert. 


KALDAR, WORLD OF ANTARES 

By Edmond Hamilton 

A stupendous novelette of a world far removed 
from Earth, of the Chan of Kaldar, and the Cosps, 
huge spider-people from beyond the metal moun- 


THE GARDENS OF THE NAWWAB 

By Grace Keon 

A fascinating tale of stolen love, and harem 
intrigues at the court of an Indian potentate. 


THE PICTURE OF JUDAS 

By Francis Hard 

The Magic Carpet flies to Italy of the Renaissance 
to let you gaze at the great painter, Leonardo da 
Vinci, and take part with him in a strange hap¬ 
pening. 


THE TRUTH ABOUT SINBAD THE SAILOR 

By Allan Govan 

A tale which tells facts about Sinbad’s voyages that 
do not agree with the story in the "Arabian 
Nights”—a tale which gives the lie to Sinbad’s 
maritime pretensions. 



if your magazine dealer is sold out mail 15c to the Publishers at 840 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill.